Fantasy Football 2020: Updated Rankings and Top Second-Year Breakout Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

In the world of fantasy football, incoming NFL rookies can make for popular draft targets. They provide a level of mystery that can be enticing, as there's no telling which rookies could emerge as a breakout sleeper.

However, putting too much stock into rookies is risky. Yes, they have sleeper potential, but they also have the potential to be utter disappointments. Rookies are unproven, which can lead fantasy managers to both sides of the boom-bust spectrum.

Second-year players, on the other hand, can provide high upside with less risk than inexperienced first-year prospects. Managers can know how a second-year player's physical skill set fairs at the second level while also having a good idea of his projected role. At the same time, second-year players don't always carry the same fantasy hype of more established veterans—setting them up with sleeper potential of their own.

Here, we'll examine three second-year players who could provide immense value in 2020. First, though, a look at updated PPR rankings.


2020 Fantasy Top 50, PPR

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

3. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

5. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

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. 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. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

17. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

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. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

24. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

25. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

26. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

27. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

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. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

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

35. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

41. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

42. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

43. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

44. DJ Chark Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

45. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

46. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

47. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

48. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

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

50. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears


Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray showed plenty of promise as a rookie last season. He amassed 3,722 passing yards, 544 rushing yards, 24 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He should have entered the offseason already on the radar of managers in leagues that award points for quarterback rushing.

After the Cardinals traded for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Murray should be on the radar of every fantasy manager. Hopkins is one of the most reliable and dominant wideouts in the game, and he's going to make Murray a better quarterback.

"You always try to make the game of football as easy as you possibly you can," former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "Any time that I was playing ... you run a lot of 3-by-1 formations putting three receivers to one side and a solo receiver on your backside. A lot of times you want that X receiver (on the backside) to be your one-on-one guy."

If Murry can have Hopkins one-on-one with any regularity, he's going to have a lot of easy completions this season. While it's not exactly fair to expect Murray to have a Lamar Jackson-level explosion this season, it's not entirely out of the question, either.

A receiving corps of Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk will provide the Oklahoma product with plenty of options—and his ability to scramble for yards when things break down isn't going anywhere.


Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Like Murray, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson showed plenty of upside as a rookie. He caught 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns. What's impressive about that is the fact that Pittsburgh's passing attack was incredibly underwhelming with the tandem of Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph under center.

While Johnson could potentially make a Year-2 jump anyway, he's likely to see a massive jump in production due to the return of Ben Roethlisberger. While Big Ben is 38 years old and coming off a significant elbow injury, he'll be capable of carpet bombing opposing defenses if healthy.

Just two seasons ago, Roethlisberger led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards.

Roethlisberger appears to be close to pre-injury form as well. He's been on the practice field throwing passes to teammates anyway, which is obviously a good sign.

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

The beard is trimmed... ...you know what that means 👀 @_BigBen7 | @TeamJuJu | @JamesConner_ | @Switz https://t.co/YLTtCynK25

If Roethlisberger is the same quarterback he was a couple of years ago, Johnson could potentially double his yardage production from 2019.


Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is another player who could jump into fantasy-starter territory this season. The second-year man out of Missouri was gifted with receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler during the draft. They—along with budding star Courtland Sutton—could push Denver's passing attack into the upper tier.

While Lock is more of a sleeper option, Broncos tight end Noah Fant could emerge as an actual star this season. He caught 40 passes for 562 yards and three touchdowns last season, despite playing only part of the season with Lock under center.

If Lock does take a positive step in Year 2, Fant will benefit greatly. The presence of Jeudy and Hamler should also help open underneath routes for the tight end, further increasing his yardage output.

Fant is worth scooping up on draft day for virtually any manager who doesn't land a top tight end like Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews. The second tier at the position is broad, but Fant has a higher ceiling than most mid-level fantasy starters.