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Michael Fabiano's top fantasy rookies (pre-draft)

It's a strange, difficult time in the world right now. The breakout of COVID-19 across the globe has turned our lives upside down, and it's put the sports world on hold. Hopefully, talking about the NFL and fantasy football in particular can be at least a small escape from what's going on in our everyday lives. With that being said, let's look at the 2020 rookie class and the names you should know.

First, full disclosure ... ranking rookies before the NFL draft is oftentimes an exercise in futility. How can you possibly forecast a player's value before he's actually on an NFL roster? The answer is simple. You can't! However, that shouldn't preclude us from taking a look at the players who are more likely to become prominent in the world of fantasy football based on their skills and abilities alone. Case in point ... Josh Jacobs was the consensus top rookie in the 2019 class before he landed with the Oakland Raiders. He went on to lead all running backs in fantasy points, averaging nearly 15 per game.

So, take this list of my current top fantasy rookies to watch at each position (in re-drafts) with a grain of salt. It's based on talent, collegiate success and projected potential in the NFL. But keep in mind, it could (and likely will) look somewhat different once the draft concludes.


1. Joe Burrow, LSU: Burrow is locked and loaded as the top option at the quarterback position, and the expectation is that he'll be the top pick of the Bengals. Coming off what was maybe the greatest season of any college quarterback ever, expectations will be high. In fantasy, though, Burrow will be worth a late-rounder in re-drafts but is a top-15 selection in dynasty leagues.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: Tagovailoa might have pushed Burrow to be the top pick in the draft had he not suffered a serious hip ailment. He does appears to be back at 100 percent, though, and teams like the Dolphins and Chargers will bring heavy interest. Tua's accuracy (87 TDs, 11 INTs) is tremendous, and he can make plays with his legs when needed. There's a lot of fantasy upside here, folks.

3. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma:Jordan Love and Justin Herbert are ahead of Hurts in most real-football rank lists, but this is fantasy ... and Hurts has the tools to make an impact. While he needs improvement as a passer, he is a productive runner who produced nearly 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground in his lone season as a Sooner. He could become a solid dynasty choice.

4. Jordan Love, Utah State: Love has passed Herbert on some rank lists, due in large part to his size, arm strength and athleticism. He is coming off a very forgettable 2019 college season, though, as he tossed 20 touchdown passes and had 17 interceptions. That poor decision-making needs to improve. He'd be a great option for the Dolphins, Chargers or Buccaneers as the future face of the franchise.

5. Justin Herbert, Oregon: Herbert is a big dude at 6-foot-6 and around 240 pounds, and many scouts believe he has the best arm in the entire 2020 draft class. He also found some success as a runner, scoring 13 times on the ground in college. Herbert's aggressiveness has been questioned, though, and he's fallen a bit on some draft boards. In fantasy football, his value is limited to dynasty drafts.

6. Jake Fromm, Georgia: Fromm didn't have a great combine, and he projects to be a wait-and-see option at the next level. The Saints or Patriots could be good landing spots for dynasty.

7. Jacob Eason, Washington: Like Herbert, Eason has great size at 6-foot-6, and he comes from a pro-style offense at Washington. A likely second-round pick, Eason could be a fit for the Colts.

8. Anthony Gordon, Washington State: Gordon threw for over 5,500 yards and 48 touchdowns last season. He's a project at the next level, though, so he's a dynasty snag at best in 2020 drafts.

Running Backs

1. D'Andre Swift, Georgia: Swift is one of the most talented backs in the 2020 class and should be a Day 1 selection in April's draft. A versatile runner who can be a weapon in the pass attack, Swift is reliable enough as a blocker and has three-down upside at the next level. When all is said and done, he could be the first rookie picked in both fantasy re-drafts and dynasty leagues.

2. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: Taylor's stock soared after the combine, so much so that he could end up being the first runner drafted (ahead of Swift) in April. Regardless, Taylor figures to be a featured back in whatever offense is lucky enough to land him. While his high rushing attempt totals in college might be a concern, Taylor is an elite prospect and a potential top overall dynasty pick.

3. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: Dobbins is projected to be an immediate No. 1 running back at the NFL level. He's a physical specimen who thrives on inside runs and can also catch the ball out of the backfield. The Buckeye is also a solid pass blocker, so he's got the tools to be on the field in all three phases. If he lands in the right backfield, Dobbins could end up making an immediate impact.

4. Cam Akers, Florida State: Akers performed quite well at the combine, so his stock is on the rise. A physical back who averaged five yards per attempt at Florida State despite playing behind a bad offensive line, Akers can break tackles and push the ball downfield. He's also a good pass catcher, hauling in 30 balls in 11 games in 2019. Atlanta could take a look at him as their future No. 1 back.

5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU: Clyde the Glyde is tremendous as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He's elusive and explosive, much in the frame of a Darren Sproles, but some see his small stature as a negative. Edwards-Helaire isn't going to find a feature role at the next level, but he could be very productive in a timeshare with a bigger back. He'll be a first-rounder in many dynasty leagues.

6. A.J. Dillon, Boston College: Dillon is a powerful back who averaged more than five yards per attempt in his final year at Boston College. He'd be a good hammer in a backfield committee.

8. Zack Moss, Utah: Moss suffered a hamstring issue at the combine, which hurt his performance. A power running back who can be difficult to tackle, Moss is a yards-after-contact machine.

9. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Jr., Vanderbilt: Vaughn is likely a Day 3 draft pick. He is a tough inside runner but doesn't project as a top-tier running back at the next level, in reality or fantasy.

10. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State: Benjamin is an elusive back who caught 77 passes in his final two seasons with the Sun Devils. He projects as a backup or backfield committee runner.

Wide Receivers

1. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: Lamb is the top-rated wide receiver on Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 list. He averaged over 21 yards per catch and scored 15 times in his final season with the Sooners. Lamb has the makeup of a potential No. 1 wideout at the next level, which makes him a great fit for teams like the Jets, Raiders and 49ers. Consider him a surefire top-15 overall pick in April's draft (and dynasty).

2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: Jeudy is a tremendous route runner and a big-time playmaker in the open field. He's drawn comparisons to his fellow Crimson Tide product, Calvin Ridley, and most scouts think he'll be even better. Mostly used as a slot receiver in college, Jeudy is a potential high-volume receiver who (much like Lamb) is a great fit for wideout-needy teams like the Jets, Raiders and 49ers.

3. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama: Ruggs is a burner (ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the combine) who can line up both on the outside and in the slot. At 6-feet and 190 pounds, he has drawn comparisons to fantasy superstar Tyreek Hill. A potential matchup nightmare at the next level, Ruggs would be a great addition for any of the three aforementioned teams. He won't slide past the Broncos in Round 1.

4. Justin Jefferson, LSU: Jefferson posted over 1,500 yards and scored 18 times in his final season with the Tigers. An athletic player with excellent skills as a route runner, Jefferson is a playmaker who can line up both on the outside and in the slot. His best fantasy landing spots are the Eagles, Saints and Vikings, but Minnesota is most likely to give him a chance to have immediate fantasy value.

5. Tee Higgins, Clemson: Higgins will look to be the next in a long line of Clemson wideouts to make a big impact in the NFL and fantasy land. A tall and slender athlete (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), he's best on slants, posts and deep routes as an outside receiver. Higgins is very likely to be on the board late in the first round and could be a nice fit for the Eagles. He'll be a top-12 pick in dynasty leagues.

6. Laviska Shenault, Colorado: Shenault is a versatile wideout who can line up anywhere on the field. He had injury issues during his collegiate career, but Shenault clearly has Day 1 talent.

7. Denzel Mims, Baylor: Mims looked tremendous at the Senior Bowl and had an all-world performance at the combine. In fact, he could even sneak into the late first round in the NFL draft.

8. Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State: Aiyuk is a raw but explosive prospect who can also be an explosive return man on special teams. He could end up being a late first-round selection in the draft.

9. Jalen Reagor, TCU: Reagor is a freak athlete who can score any time he touches the football. He also had a strong combine performance based on Gil Brandt's positional target marks.

10. Michael Pittman, USC: Pittman is a big wideout at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds. A possession-type receiver and good route runner in college, he further improved his stock at the combine.

Tight Ends

1. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame: Kmet is projected to be the top tight end in what is considered a weak draft class at the position. He has great hands, but his lack of blocking chops could hurt his time on the gridiron at the next level. Much like most rookie tight ends, he's unlikely to make an immediate impact.

2. Hunter Bryant, Washington: Bryant hailed in 52 passes for 825 yards in his final season with the Huskies. He performed well at the scouting combine based on Brandt's target marks. Bryant's best chance for success at the next level is working off the line of scrimmage and creating mismatches.

3. Brycen Hopkins, Purdue: Hopkins is a very athletic pass catcher with some yards-after-catch potential at the next level. NFL Media's Lance Zierlein suggests he has the skills to be a flex tight end. He needs to make improvements as a blocker in order to earn snaps and reach his potential, however.

4. Adam Trautman, Dayton: Trautman is a terrific athlete who dominated the competition in college, albeit at a small school. He needs improvement as a blocker if he's to make good on the "sleeper" label some scouts have placed upon him. In all, he's one to watch in the NFL draft.

5. Harrison Bryant, F.A.U.: Bryant won the John Mackey Award as the top tight end in college football. He is considered a very well-rounded prospect at the position, but most scouts will tell you he doesn't excel in any one category. In all, Bryant should be considered a deep dynasty league sleeper in 2020.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTubeand Instagramfor the latest fantasy football news and analysis!

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