Fantasy Football 2020: Updated Rankings and Rookie Sleepers After NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2020

Southern California wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., left, sprints with the ball past Utah defensive back Tareke Lewis during an NCAA football game on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

The 2020 NFL draft has come and gone, and a new crop of rookies is heading into the NFL. For fantasy football enthusiasts, this means that a whole new group of potential draft sleepers has arrived.

Longtime fantasy veterans know that while it's important not to miss on first- and second-round draft picks, it's equally important to find value in the middle and late rounds. Early selections can largely carry teams, but that's often not a possibility when injuries and bye weeks get involved.

This is why rookies can play huge roles on a championship fantasy team. With rare exceptions—Saquon Barkley being a recent one—rookies aren't drafted as highly as their veteran brethren. When those newcomers aren't high first-rounders, they can often be found on the back end of the draft.

There is risk involved, of course, as rookies are unproven at the NFL level. But once a starting lineup is largely filled, it's worth taking a chance on a rookie. The payoff can be enormous, and the floor isn't that much lower than it might be with a mid-tier fantasy backup.

Here we will examine some potential rookie sleepers who are worth picking up based on the situations they are joining. First, though, an updated look at PPR rankings.


2020 Fantasy Football Rankings, PPR

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

2. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

4. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

5. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

8. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

9. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

11. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

12. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

13. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

14. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

15. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

16. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

17. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

18. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

19. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions

21. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

22. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

23. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

24. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

25. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

26. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

27. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

28. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

29. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

30. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

31. Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons

32. Odell Beckham jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

33. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

34. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

35. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

36. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

37. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

38. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

39. DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

40. Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

41. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

42. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

43. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

44. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

45. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

46. DJ Chark Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

47. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

48. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

49. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

50. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals


Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts didn't get in on the draft's first-round receiver feeding frenzy. However, they did grab a receiver early on Day 2, taking USC's Michael Pittman Jr. with the 34th pick. Pittman enters a situation in which he can have an immediate fantasy impact.

For one, the Colts don't have an established No. 2 receiver opposite T.Y. Hilton. Indianapolis has the likes of Artavis Scott, Zach Pascal and unproven second-year man Parris Campbell. At 6'4" and with 4.52 speed, Pittman can be the big-bodied complement to Hilton out of the blocks.

"He was big. He's strong to the ball. He competes. He got better every year in college," general manager Chris Ballard said, per Jake Arthur of the team's official website. "He's the type of teammate we want. We think he's got a chance to be a heck of a player."

With Hilton stretching the field, Pittman should have opportunities to feast on intermediate routes. With Philip Rivers leading the offense instead of Jacoby Brissett, the Colts should be more balanced than run-heavy offensively. That further raises Pittman's ceiling.


Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

While the Colts are retooling their offense with a new quarterback, the Los Angeles Rams are going into another year with Jared Goff under center and Sean McVay running the show. While the Los Angeles offense experienced some hiccups in 2019, it still finished ranked 11th in scoring and seventh in yardage.

In terms of scheme, former Florida receiver and 57th overall pick Van Jefferson couldn't ask for a better landing spot. McVay's passing offense is all about timing and spacing, and that fits Jefferson perfectly.

"Jefferson has average size and won't run away from quality man coverage, but he will separate from it with premium route-running and unique looks and angles that keep cornerbacks on their heels," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote before the draft.

The Rams aren't short on receivers—their depth chart features Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds—but the offseason trade of Brandin Cooks should open up opportunities for Jefferson.

Cooks was limited to 14 games in 2019 and still finished with 42 catches, 583 yards and two touchdowns. This could be the floor for Jefferson.


Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

If you are looking for a deep sleeper at the tight end position, former Notre Dame standout Cole Kmet is your target from this rookie class. The 6'6", 262-pound pass-catcher has 4.7 speed—making him a size-speed mismatch against most defensive backs and linebackers. Kmet possesses big-play potential.

"Once he's striding, he becomes a legitimate second-level threat with sneaky separation speed and intriguing ball skills," Zierlein wrote.

Kmet should be considered a deep sleeper for two reasons. For one, he shouldn't be drafted as a starting tight end. For those who even draft a backup tight end, the understudy shouldn't be targeted before the final few rounds.

The second reason is that his value will hinge on Chicago's starting quarterback. If the recently acquired Nick Foles wins the starting job, Kmet could overtake many starters on fantasy rosters. Foles worked wonders with Zach Ertz with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Kmet can be an Ertz-type target for him.

If Mitchell Trubisky remains the starter, Kmet will likely only have value as a backup. The presence of free-agent acquisition Jimmy Graham only hurts Kmet's value slightly. While Graham is little more than a big-bodied red-zone target, Kmet can be a true downfield weapon.