Fantasy Football 2020: Updated Player Rankings and Potential Sleeper Strategies

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2020

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Though the start of the 2020 NFL regular season isn't scheduled to begin for more than three months, it's never too early for fantasy enthusiasts to start preparing. Honing the perfect draft plan takes time and effort.

While it's difficult to know exactly which players to target before training camps have even begun, managers can get a leg up on the competition by knowing where to look for value and potential sleepers in the draft.

Here you will find a look at several draft-preparation strategies that can help to unearth late-round gems or terrific middle-round value. You'll also find an updated look at the top fantasy draft prospects, based on PPR scoring.

Let's dig in.


2020 Fantasy 50, PPR

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

2. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

3. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

5. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

6. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

7.. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

9. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

11. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

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. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

18. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

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. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

24. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

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. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

32. Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons

33. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

34. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

35. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

37. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

38. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

39. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

40. DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

41. Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

42. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

43. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

44. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

45. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

46. DJ Chark Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

47. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

48. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

49. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

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


Get to Know the Rookie RB Class

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Now is a great time for fantasy managers to familiarize themselves with this year's crop of rookie running back.

With occasional exception—Saquon Barkley, to be specific—rookie backs can typically be landed in the middle and late rounds in fantasy drafts. They are unproven commodities, hence the middling draft status, but they can set the table for big returns.

Last season, for example, Las Vegas Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs racked up 1,150 rushing yards, 166 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The year before, Cleveland Browns rookie Nick Chubb produced 1,149 rushing and receiving yards and 10 touchdowns despite only making nine starts.

The trick here is to identify which rookie backs are likely to have significant roles. Baltimore Ravens rookie J.K. Dobbins will likely be splitting carries with Mark Ingram II and quarterback Lamar Jackson. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams are already working on ways to put the ball in the hands of Cam Akers.

"He was an unbelievable quarterback in high school," head coach Sean McVay told NBC Sports' Mike Tirico. "He had some good trick plays, so we'll have to add to the inventory and see if he can throw it a little bit still."

With Todd Gurley gone, Akers will compete with the likes of Malcolm Browns and Darrell Henderson for the lead job in Los Angeles.


Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Pay Attention to Receiver Battles in Training Camp

Once we finally do get to training-camp season, receiver battles will be the camp competitions worth following. Specifically, No. 2 and No. 3 receiver battles can produce fantasy sleepers.

Last season, Michael Gallup emerged as the clear No. 2 receiver for the Dallas Cowboys opposite Amari Cooper. He then saw his production jump from 507 receiving yards and two touchdowns to 1,107 yards and six scores.

Staying with the Cowboys, it will now be worth watching to see whether Gallup or rookie first-round pick CeeDee Lamb will emerge as the No. 2 wideout in Dallas. It's always good to know who's in line to be the Green Bay Packers' No. 2 receiver—when they actually have one. Free agency and the draft have also created a couple of other intriguing situations.

The Indianapolis Colts, for example, added quarterback Philip Rivers in free agency. This should increase the potency of their passing attack, where T.Y. Hilton is the clear go-to target. However, second-year many Parris Campbell and rookie Michael Pittman Jr. are likely to compete for the yet unsettled No. 2 receiver role.

Depending on whether one can establish a steady rapport with Rivers during camp and the preseason, either Campbell or Pittman could become a tremendous value target on draft day.


Don't Overvalue Rookie Quarterbacks; Do Stash Them

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

While incoming rookies can provide tons of fantasy value, it's important not to overdraft rookie signal-callers. Leagues typically only have around a dozen starters at the position—depending on league size and whether a two-QB roster is permitted—and rookies rarely crack the list.

Even a promising rookie campaign, such as Baker Mayfield's 27-touchdown outing in 2018, can be pedestrian in the fantasy world. Remember, quarterbacks drafted highly are usually going to bad teams. Quarterbacks that land with playoff squads are not often in line to start early.

However, it can be worth stashing a rookie quarterback for his potential late-season value, often in the form of a trade chip.

Cincinnati Bengals rookie Joe Burrow, for example, is likely to be a Week 1 starter. However, there's going to be an adjustment period for the No. 1 pick, and he probably won't have the immediate returns of a mid-tier starter like Russell Wilson or Ben Roethlisberger. However, the reigning Heisman winner could be a quality starting option by midseason and worth a hefty haul to a manager who is suddenly without a starter because of injury.

This is a strategy that only works for managers with a reliable QB1 on the roster. Those looking to stream at the position should focus on signal-callers who can contribute early and often.

Drafting three quarterbacks is inadvisable unless playing in a two-QB league.