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Rookies to Target in Best Ball Leagues (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Jim Colombo | @WideRightNBlue | Featured Writer
May 18, 2020

Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Fantasy Football Draft or head to more advanced strategy – like When is it Okay to Reach on Draft Day? – to learn more.

Are you looking to make a splash with some rookie sensations in your best ball fantasy league? Check out these best ball rookies to target in 2020.

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Quarterbacks

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but you can’t score points if your players never see the field. So when you draft a rookie quarterback in your best-ball league, you’ve got to go after day-one starters. That’s why Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are no-brainer targets.

Joe Burrow (CIN): QB21, ADP 149
First-overall pick Joe Burrow joins a Cincinnati Bengals team with nowhere to go but up. Entering his first NFL season with a fleet of next-level wide receivers — A.J. Green, John Ross, Tyler Boyd, and fellow rookie sensation Tee Higgins — Burrow will have plenty to work with right from the start. If the Bengals’ underachieving offensive line can step up in 2020, there’s no reason that Burrow can’t put up some big-time fantasy points every few weeks or so in his rookie season.

Season Projections

PASS CMP PASS ATT PASS YDS PASS TDS PASS INTS RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS FUMBLES POINTS
343.9 560.9 3826.3 21.6 14.3 56.7 301.8 2 9 234.8 

 
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA): QB28, ADP 196
Tua Tagovailoa, another hot commodity in this year’s draft, isn’t exactly a lock to start the season for the Miami Dolphins. However, he’s easily the next-best rookie quarterback who can step in and make a difference sooner rather than later. While Tagovailoa won’t have the same depth of talent as Burrow does — and he will face some of the league’s best defenses in Buffalo and New England twice a year — the rookie’s raw athleticism and playmaking ability make him an immediate threat any time he takes the field.

Season Projections

PASS CMP PASS ATT PASS YDS PASS TDS PASS INTS RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS FUMBLES POINTS
270.4 432.4 3031.2 17.6 12.8 27.5 119.4 1.1 3.2 177.9

 

Running Backs

The running back position is way more forgiving than quarterback because so many teams deploy backfields by committee. While Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, and J.K. Dobbins should be the first rookie running backs selected in just about any fantasy format, you can still get really good value with other running backs from this draft class. Here are three rookie rushers who could pay dividends in your best-ball leagues.

Zack Moss (BUF): RB65, ADP 211
The Zack Moss situation in Buffalo reminds me of when the Bengals drafted Jeremy Hill to supplement Giovani Bernard in 2014. Despite Bernard’s impressive rookie season the year before, Hill came in to power up to their rushing attack. This year in Buffalo, the situation is very similar. Devin Singletary showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, but Moss was brought in to lower the boom. Don’t be surprised if Moss takes over lead back duties — just like Jeremy Hill did in Cincinnati a few years ago — and look for “Beast Mode 2.0” to be a best-ball rookie darling in 2020.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES POINTS
148.7 674.1 4.5 17 145.1 0.8 1.8 110.3

 
Anthony McFarland Jr. (PIT): RB61, ADP205.5
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding James Conner in Pittsburgh. According to Steelers beat writers and fantasy analysts from across the country, Conner’s workload could be limited to preserve his health. While Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels round out the remainder of the backfield, fourth-round rookie rusher Anthony McFarland Jr. is a threat to mix in on third down and passing situations. McFarland Jr. won’t tote the rock 20 times a game (unless Conner goes down), but he should see close to 10 touches and four or five targets per game.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES POINTS
100.2 406.9 2.7 13.8 111.7 0.7 1.2 70

 
Joshua Kelley (LAC): RB70, ADP 130.5
Melvin Gordon is out. Joshua Kelley is in. Yes, Austin Ekeler is still in the mix, but even though he’s shown an ability to carry the load for the Chargers, he’ll definitely cede some time to a backup running back in 2020. That means Kelley is going to get an opportunity to challenge Justin Jackson for backup running back duties right out of the gate. According to expert rookie consensus rankings, Kelley’s stock is on the rise.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES POINTS
111.2 458.2 3.6 7.7 62.3 0.2 1.2 72.3

 

Wide Receivers

CeeDee Lamb (DAL): WR39, ADP 104.5
CeeDee Lamb is a super freak, right? He’s taking his 173-3292-32 collegiate career stat line to a Dallas Cowboys offense that threw the ball 596 times last year. Sure, Jason Garret is gone, but new head coach Mike McCarthy retained Kellen Moore as the team’s offensive coordinator, so we could see the pass-happiness continue in 2020. Besides, the team belongs to Jerry Jones, who made Lamb a top priority in this year’s draft. In other words, the Cowboys are going to make Lamb a big part of their offense ASAP. While the lion’s share of the targets will go to Amari Cooper, Lamb is primed to make a big splash in Dallas as the second or third option on a high-octane offense.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES POINTS
2.1 12.4 0 50.9 774.8 4.3 1.2 102.6

 
Tee Higgins (CIN)
Higgins joins a crowded receiver group in Cincinnati, but the 33rd-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft wasn’t drafted to sit on the bench. The game-breaking rookie will be catching passes from fellow draft class rookie Joe Burrow, which means the two could develop a boom-or-bust relationship right away. Fortunately, all you need in your best ball league is the boom — so you could do worse than targeting Higgins as your fourth or fifth wide receiver.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES POINTS
2 9 0 35.7 504.9 2.8 0.6 67.2

 
Michael Pittman Jr. (IND): WR 71, ADP 196
According to Colts head coach Frank Reich, Pittman Jr. is going to be the team’s “X” receiver “pretty quickly.” The 34th-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Pittman joins a Colts offense that recently added future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Philip Rivers. The six-foot-four, 225-pound former Trojan has the perfect size for a seasoned quarterback like Rivers to target, which means the two could connect for big-time plays early and often in Indianapolis. When you hear Pittman Jr. drawing comparisons to Vincent Jackson and Michael Thomas, he becomes a player that’s impossible to ignore.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES POINTS
3 13 0 38.8 537.4 3.7 0.6 76

 

Tight Ends

When you’re ready to target a rookie tight end in your best ball draft, look for Cole Kmet, Adam Trautman, and Devin Asiasi. Those are easy picks, but I’m interested in a deeper sleeper who is in the right situation at the right time.

Thaddeus Moss (WAS): TE47, ADP 303
Thaddeus Moss, son of legendary wideout Randy Moss, wasn’t drafted by an NFL team. However, the Washington Redskins signed Moss as an unrestricted free agent to bring some much-needed youth to an aging tight end group. Moss, who posted 47 catches for 570 yards and four touchdowns in two years at two different colleges, suffered from foot injuries that prohibited his success. When healthy, though, Moss can produce, as we saw when he scored twice in the 2019 NCAA title game. Given his situation, Moss could carve out a starting role that makes him an intriguing target in best-ball leagues.

Season Projections

RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TDS FUMBLES
2.0 9.0 0 41.3 547.6 4.2 1.2

 
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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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