Fantasy Football 2020: Cheat Sheet for Sleepers, Busts Heading into Your Draft

Theo SalaunContributor IIIAugust 17, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) celebrates his 4-yard score against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

This will, without a doubt, be the hardest NFL season to predict—with no preseason games, minimal practice exposure and a Hard Knocks season that shows more Zoom than zoom. 

But that's what makes fantasy football fun and why it's more important than ever to be locked in ahead of draft day, splicing together whatever limited information we may come by.

In order to help continue building some of that intel, we've provided lists of 10 potential sleepers and busts apiece, followed by analysis of three particularly topical situations.

Using FantasyPros' consensus rankings as the baseline, these players are not expected to become superstars or flop entirely, but they can reasonably be expected instead to outperform or underperform their ADP. 


2020 NFL Fantasy Sleepers

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins

AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers

Breshad Perriman, WR, New York Jets

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas Raiders


Potential 2020 NFL Fantasy Busts

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers


Slot or Not, Ruggs Can Be Lethal

Henry Ruggs III wasn't the most highly ranked wide receiver in one of the position's most stacked draft classes in NFL history, but he was the first one taken off of the board and that should already give you a sense of how much the Raiders value his talent.

The team wanted Antonio Brown to be their X-factor in 2019, but that didn't work out. Although Ruggs isn't Brown, it's not unreasonable to foresee him becoming their most impactful receiver.

He's currently being mocked at WR53 and that, frankly, is absurd. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson revealed on Aug. 6 that the team will "start with Ruggs III in the slot," and Las Vegas beat reporters such as Vincent Bonsignore are now reporting the 21-year-old is starting outside as the X or Z receiver.

Las Vegas Raiders @Raiders

Yeah, @__RUGGS can do a LOT more than just run fast. 😏 https://t.co/KUMzHWER8s

That suggests his team sees him as a versatile weapon. And his teammates do too, as The Athletic's Vic Tafur noted Darren Waller calling Ruggs "as fast as a roach when you put the lights on."

Furthermore, Sports Illustrated's Hondo S. Carpenter reported that Ruggs, at one point, had one arm held by his defender 56 yards downfield and still made a one-handed catch that led to his teammates "celebrating like a bunch of kids playing in the backyard." 

His speed is undeniable, his talent is exceptional and he is guaranteed to start for a team that is yearning for a pass-catching playmaker. The value is incredible, regardless of the spot he settles into.


The Jonathan Taylor ADP Conundrum

Like Ruggs, Jonathan Taylor is a fantastic rookie prospect; unlike Ruggs, though, his team already has a ton of talent at his position.

By the end of the season, Taylor can most certainly become the lead rusher on a Philip Rivers offense that boasts one of the best offensive lines in the league. And, for that reason, he's being drafted well ahead of backs with clear paths to volume, such as David Montgomery, Raheem Mostert, Devin Singletary, Ronald Jones and fellow rookie Cam Akers. 

But Taylor's path to volume isn't as clear. Colts head coach Frank Reich has already named Marlon Mack the starter following a season in which he put up 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns across 14 games.

And he explained that the team is "expecting a big year from all our backs, but in particular, Marlon, he looks good."

Indianapolis Colts @Colts

MARLON MACK. SPIN CYCLE. 🌀😳 #JAXvsIND https://t.co/j0CXPxjePd

Reich believes the "backs complement each other" and that the team will "take the same approach that we have, where it's week in and week out, hot hand, all those things." 

Taylor, 21, is an outstanding player with three-down back potential, but Mack is a tremendous runner and Nyheim Hines is a dangerous pass-catcher. His ADP belies how precarious the certainty of volume actually is. 


Jones Benefits From Tom Brady Effect

Just as Mike Evans has warranted a drop in ADP given the departure of the downfield gunslinging Jameis Winston, Ronald Jones' ADP deserves a bump up thanks to the arrival of Tom Brady.

The 23-year-old Tampa Bay star is being drafted at RB30 and could easily exceed those expectations.

Eduardo A. Encina 😷 @EddieInTheYard

Tom Brady handing off to Ronald Jones during drills at today’s #Bucs training camp practice. #GoBucs #NFL #TampaBay #TB12 https://t.co/aGaAAN24AJ

Whether you credit Brady or Bill Belichick, the quarterback's offenses have routinely ensured tremendous output from their starting back, particularly at the goal line. His mastery of offensive pacing, especially in the intermediate game, leads to greater short-yardage opportunities—a perfect fit for Jones' physical playstyle.

According to the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud, the USC product has added eight pounds of muscle, rising to 225 pounds. And that improvement is just part of why head coach Bruce Arians has already clarified that the young, high-upside back is the primary ball-carrier: "RoJo is the main guy. He'll carry the load. All of those other guys are fighting for roles."

JetPack Galileo @JetPackGalileo

This is Ronald Jones' best run since college. If you like Jones, you like him for his potential at the second level. Here he shows awareness of blocking leverage, lateral agility and strength. https://t.co/THYw6fTWb6

Jones has had a disappointing start to his career but impressed in spurts last season when Peyton Barber wasn't being leaned upon as the better pass-blocker and receiver. Now, the talented runner has had an offseason to work on those skills, and he also has his coach's confidence and a new quarterback who should make his life a lot easier.

Even with LeSean McCoy and Ke'Shawn Vaughn factoring in, Jones can be one of 2020's mid-round steals.