Fantasy Football 2020: Rookie Rankings, Top Team Names and League NamesAugust 8, 2020
While there will be no NFL preseason in 2020, training camps are underway and teams are preparing for meaningful football in September. The show, as they say, must go on. So too will fantasy football.
However, the lack of a preseason will make it more difficult to prepare for season-long fantasy drafts—specifically where rookies are concerned. Without exhibition football, it will be tougher to decipher what roles and opportunities first-year players are likely to see.
When evaluating this year's crop of rookies, it will be more important than ever to follow training camp storylines and roster reports. A fair amount of guesswork will also be involved, though we can get a good idea of which rookies are worth eyeing based on factors like roster depth, scheme fit and physical potential.
Plenty can change in the coming weeks, but these are the rookies best poised to make an early fantasy impact as of right early August.
2020 Fantasy Rookie Rankings
1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
3. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
4. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
5. Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
6. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
7. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
8. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
9. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
10. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
11. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
13. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
14. AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
15. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Opportunity is everything for a rookie in the world of fantasy. Therefore, Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the clear front-runner in the rookie rankings. While backs like J.K. Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor and AJ Dillon are joining teams with established starters, Edwards-Helaire can be penciled in as the lead back for Kansas City.
This is because 2019 starter and Super Bowl hero Damien Williams has decided to opt out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs also parted with LeSean McCoy in the offseason, so Kansas City will forge ahead with the likes of Edwards-Helaire, Elijah McGuire, DeAndre Washington and 2019 sixth-round pick Darwin Thompson.
"The guys that we have in that locker room can fill that void," tight end Travis Kelce said, per ESPN's Adam Teicher. "I honestly believe that. We have an unbelievable roster, and I'm excited to see how this group molds together."
Similarly, Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers ranks highly because he should be staring down a starting job. The Rams cut regular fantasy star Todd Gurley this offseason, and he quickly signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
Only longtime backup Malcolm Brown and 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson stand between Akers and a starting job. Henderson only saw 39 carries as a rookie last season.
Players such as Dobbins, Taylor and Dillon are worth a middle-to-late-round flier as they could emerge as starters at some point in 2020. However, those three will initially be behind Mark Ingram, Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones, respectively.
While running backs have traditionally had an easier transition from college to the NFL than receivers, rookie wideouts have made early impacts in recent seasons. In 2018, rookies DJ Moore, Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton were fantasy-relevant. Last year, it was DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown and Terry McLaurin.
Opportunity is key at receiver too, which is why Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III rank higher than Dallas Cowboys wideout CeeDee Lamb. Ruggs has a chance to immediately become the Las Vegas Raiders' No. 1 wideout, while Jeudy should be the Denver Broncos' starter opposite Sutton.
Lamb has as much upside as any wideout in the 2020 draft class, but he's also joining a team with 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. From a fantasy standpoint, he's a boom-or-bust prospect.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is the only rookie signal-caller worth drafting in fantasy right now, as he was essentially handed the starting job upon being selected—the Bengals cut Andy Dalton right after the draft. However, he is only worth targeting as a backup or stashed as a late-season sleeper streaming option in larger leagues.
Burrow does have an enticing supporting cast—which includes A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Joe Mixon and rookie receiver Tee Higgins—but established starters should be targeted first.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could join the list of draftable rookies if he beats out journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick in training camp. Consider him an honorable mention and a player to follow in August.
Rookie-Themed Team Names
While style points aren't going to help you win your fantasy league, a fun and catchy team name is a great way to inject a little personality into the proceedings. Since we're focusing on rookies here, let's take a look at some fantasy team names based on the 2020 draft class.
- You mad, Burrow?
- Tua and a Half Men
- Baskin Dobbins
- Silence of the Lamb
- Tee'n Off
- Fresh Prince of Helaire
- Judge Jeudy
- In It Tua Win It
- Wheelin' and Dillon
- Vaughn With the Wind
If you're starting up a league or are in charge of an existing one, it's worth adding a little flavor here as well. It's a good idea to pick a name that highlights the friends, family members or coworkers involved with the league—for example, The Drill Bits for a dental office—but here are some more generic ideas for your consideration.
- The Motley Crew
- Weekend Warriors
- The Dirty Dozen
- The Greatest Show on Paper
- Average Joes
- Win or Go Home
- Monday Morning Hangover
- The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
- All in the Family
- The No Fun League