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Fantasy Football 2020: PPR Rankings and Top Rookies to Target on Draft Day

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 3, 2020

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Rookies have a unique place in the fantasy football world.

On one hand, you don't want to overpay for the novelty of getting the shiny, new object; on the other, first-year players can become instant fantasy assets—Saquon Barkley debuted as the second-highest fantasy scorer in 2018—so you don't want to exclude them from the conversation.

There doesn't seem to be an instant star on Barkley's level in this incoming rookie class, but don't sleep on it. There are several weekly starters in the mix, and after laying out our top-50 rankings for point-per-reception leagues, we'll spotlight the top three rookies on our draft board.

            

Top-50 PPR Rankings

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

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2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

3. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

7. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

9. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

11. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

12. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

13. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

14. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

15. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

16. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

17. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

18. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

19. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

20. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

21. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

22. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions

23. Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos

24. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

25. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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

27. David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans

28. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

29. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

30. Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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

32. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

33. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

34. Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

35. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

36. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

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

38. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

39. D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

40. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

41. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

42. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

43. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

44. Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

45. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

46. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

47. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

48. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

49. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

50. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

                  

Top Rookies to Target on Draft Day

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Landing spots can be critical to a fantasy freshman's success, and it's hard to think of a better place Clyde Edwards-Helaire could have landed than the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Super Bowl champs scored the fifth-most points per game last season. They also cycled through several different running backs, as no one ran away with the starting gig.

Andy Reid's offense has propped up fantasy backs before, and Edwards-Helaire could restart that trend. His all-around skills seem the perfect addition to this offense, and he was handpicked by starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

"I think the first thing that stood out from Clyde is when the competition and the games got bigger, it seemed like he played better," Mahomes told reporters. "I always like guys that can rise to the competition, and whenever you're on the biggest stage, you play your best football, and you rise up and compete with your team."

Having Mahomes in his corner could be huge for the 21-year-old, as it might get him a leg up in the race for the featured-back role. If he gets it, he may never come off the field.

Last season at LSU, Edwards-Helaire had 215 rushes for 1,414 yards, 55 receptions for 453 yards and even 10 kick returns for another 214 yards. He tallied 17 touchdowns and forced an incredible 85 missed tackles, per Pro Football Focus.

                   

D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

Perhaps the most popular player mocked atop the position group before the draft, D'Andre Swift instead went three picks behind Edwards-Helaire. But Detroit is a good landing spot, as the running back position is his for the taking.

Kerryon Johnson missed eight games last season and still led the Lions—by a decent margin—with 113 carries. J.D. McKissic paced the position with 34 receptions but was mostly a non-factor on the ground (38 carries for 205 yards). Swift has the rushing and receiving acumen to be the best-balanced back on the roster.

Maybe that doesn't seem like much in the Motor City, but the Lions have sneaky-good potential on offense. A healthy Matthew Stafford can spread the ball between Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson, which will open significant space for Swift as a rusher and pass-catcher.

The 21-year-old scored 21 touchdowns over his last two seasons at Georgia—17 on the ground, four through the air. He paired 196 carries for 1,218 yards with 24 catches for 216 yards in 2019.

There are too many cooks in the kitchen for Swift to handle an RB1 workload, but he could nevertheless lead the Lions' backs in carries and catches.

                   

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

While Jonathan Taylor holds a spot in our top-50 rankings (46th overall), we can't help but wonder if we've slotted him too low.

Even if no one expects the 21-year-old to match his production at Wisconsin, the numbers are still worth mentioning. Over three seasons with the Badgers, he rushed 926 times for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns. Those numbers don't seem real, until you notice the two Doak Walker Awards in his trophy case.

There are question marks with Taylor—the wear-and-tear from that workload, fumbles and limited involvement as a receiver—but running talent isn't one of them.

"Taylor very well could be the best pure rusher in this class; he paced this group in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season," ESPN's Mike Clay wrote. "His 3.7 YAC was fourth best in this class. Taylor also crushed it at February's combine, running a position-best 4.39 and a solid 7.01 three-cone despite being a hefty 5'10" and 226 pounds."

By landing in Indy, he will now be running behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines. Even if he operates in a timeshare with Marlon Mack, he could have the opportunities to make a big splash in fantasy.

Considering how Taylor handled his chances in college, the smart money is on a big year for the former Badger.

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