Top Late-Round Picks in Dynasty Rookie Drafts (2020 Fantasy Football)
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While we’ve been looking at the more notable dynasty fantasy football players at the running back and wide receiver positions in recent weeks, we realize that not all dynasty studs come from the first few rounds of rookie drafts. Our writers are here to provide their favorite late-round picks in dynasty rookie drafts, coming from those players currently ranked outside the top 30 in our dynasty rookie rankings.
Q: Who is your favorite late-round pick in dynasty rookie drafts (Pick No. 30+)?
Eno Benjamin (RB – ARI)
If I’m taking a flier in the late rounds of a rookie dynasty draft, it’s going to be on someone in an explosive offense who has a pathway to playing time. That’s former Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin. As the No. 222 overall pick in the NFL Draft, he’ll go overlooked by many, but here’s why you should target him in your league. First, Kyler Murray opened the field up for the Cardinals in his rookie season, helping the team rush for almost 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. That’s a drastic improvement from the year prior, when the team rushed for a total of 1,342 yards and nine touchdowns. Add DeAndre Hopkins to the offense for at least the next three seasons, and the Cardinals will be hard to stop. Kenyan Drake comes into the season as the lead back with Chase Edmonds as his primary backup, but Benjamin seems to have a clear path to be the third-string running back in Arizona right away. Drake will play the season on the franchise tag. While the team would like to extend him long-term, there’s currently no deal in place and nothing guaranteed. Benjamin would only have Edmonds as competition for carries at that point. Given his dynamic skill set and production in college, he may have the edge over Edmonds. As a two-year starter for the Sun Devils, Benjamin rushed for 2,723 yards and 26 TDs. His elite vision and elusiveness will help him thrive in the zone scheme offense run by Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. While it’s very possible Drake gets signed long-term and remains the Cardinals’ top back, there’s at least a chance Benjamin becomes the starter on one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL. Sign me up!
– Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)
Eno Benjamin is a pretty easy pick for me. Benjamin was a two-year starter for Arizona State, compiling an outstanding 2,725 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. What’s even more important, especially for fantasy football, was his receiving production in college, as he also contributed another 610 yards and four scores on 77 receptions. His 14.4% college target share ranked in the 94th-percentile at the running back position and sets him up as one of the best pass-catchers at the position in this year’s draft class. Though he may not offer immediate value as a member of the Arizona Cardinals’ backfield, his time as a consistent contributor could come quicker than expected. This offseason, the Cardinals placed the transition tag on lead back Kenyan Drake after trading for him midway through last season. Because of this, Drake will become a free agent following this year, opening up the door for Benjamin to see a larger workload. While he may still have to compete with Chase Edmonds, that’s a much smaller hill to climb. Additionally, with Kyler Murray — the Cardinals’ number one overall pick last year — under center for the foreseeable future, this offense has the ability to produce at a high level for years to come.
– Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen)
Joshua Kelley (RB – LAC)
According to FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings, Chargers running back Joshua Kelley is the industry’s 36th-ranked rookie. In many respects, we are throwing darts this late in rookie drafts, so what we really want is a path to opportunity. The 5’10”, 212-pound Kelley seemingly has as good of a chance as anyone ranked outside the top 30 right now. The UCLA product landed with the Chargers, who just signed Austin Ekeler to a four-year deal this spring. However, Melvin Gordon is gone, leaving behind 13.5 carries on his way out. Ekeler is undoubtedly going to be the lead back for LA, but it doesn’t appear as if he’ll receive bell-cow treatment. Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen recently said that “all three” off Ekeler, Kelley, and Justin Jackson will share the load at running back. Kelley could begin his career by snagging some of Gordon’s carries from a season ago and would immediately be an RB2/FLEX in fantasy should anything happen to Ekeler.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI)
Tyler Johnson, Joshua Kelley, Lynn Bowden Jr., and Adam Trautman are all highly intriguing, but I can’t pass up the chance to highlight Jalen Hurts, easily the best taxi squad candidate in this year’s rookie class. Hurts was an excellent college quarterback, both at Alabama and at Oklahoma, with efficient passing performances against tough competition and second-to-none mobility in this class. Hurts has the true Konami Code, and he stands alone in this rookie class in that regard. The only red flags on Hurts’s profile are a low throw velocity (which still tops Deshaun Watson’s) and a low Wonderlic score, which doesn’t seem to matter. If there is a quarterback in this class that can compete with Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray as the true dual-threat fantasy difference-maker at QB, it’s Hurts. The best part is, he’s so cheap to acquire and stash in rookie drafts. Of course, it’s also completely possible that the Eagles are ready to move on from Carson Wentz, given his lengthy injury history. Hurts is at worst an elite backup with the highest upside of any backup QB. At best, he’s a near-future starter with elite fantasy QB upside.
– Mark Leipold (@LeipoldNFL)
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR – CLE)
When I am looking at late-round fliers, I want to take a player who has special athletic skills and a chance to see the field early. Peoples-Jones is one of the best athletes in the 2020 class. A bigger receiver at 6′ 2″ and 212 pounds, he also displayed raw athleticism with a 4.49 40-yard dash, 44.5″ vertical jump, and 139.0″ broad jump. The only wide receiver who had a higher SPARQ score in the 2020 class was Henry Ruggs III, the first wide receiver drafted. Both players ranked in the 99th percentile when it comes to SPARQ athleticism. Other than Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, there is no established wide receiver on Cleveland’s depth chart, which gives Peoples-Jones a chance to earn the third position this year. Furthermore, the way they structured OBJ and Landry’s contracts, both could be in their last year with the Browns if they do not live up to their deals. That means Peoples-Jones has a chance to start as early as 2021 if he plays up to his physical gifts. The only concern when it comes to his fantasy upside is Baker Mayfield’s inconsistency over his first two years. Peoples-Jones has uncertain future value as long as Mayfield continues to be an enigma. Peoples-Jones is not expensive, though; he is currently the 19th-ranked rookie wide receiver in the FantasyPros rookie rankings. When talking about that blend of speed and athleticism, Peoples-Jones is well worth the risk of getting his chance to see the field early and possibly becoming a starter as soon as 2021.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
DeeJay Dallas (RB – SEA)
Much will be made of the need to take rookies who see the field early, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. If you find yourself in a position where you have to repeatedly start rookies you drafted in the fourth round, it is time to look to the future and start rebuilding. Now, if you want to take someone who has realistic starter potential in 2021, start by looking at the list of potential free agents for 2021. If there is one name at RB that stands out above all others as having the potential to leave, it is Chris Carson, given the extensive draft resources that Seattle has put into the position. I am no scout, but I don’t need to be one to tell you that DeeJay Dallas could beat Rashaad Penny out for the starting role. Dallas should waltz into 200-plus carries if Carson leaves. Sign me up.
– Ethan Summers (@AllSummersLong_)
Antonio Gandy-Golden (WAS – WR)
My current favorite late-round pick is Antonio Gandy-Golden. His drop in drafts is somewhat reminiscent of what we saw from new teammate Terry McLaurin last year. The dynasty community did not believe McLaurin was going to an ideal situation. With McLaurin now commanding double teams and/or the attention of the opposition’s number one corner, AGG should be able to feast alongside him. Kelvin Harmon stands in his way for a role in two-wide sets, but head coach Ron Rivera should find a way to get his top three wideouts on the field at the same time when they go to three wide receivers. Gandy-Golden is a talented receiver with the type of body control, catch radius, and 50/50 ball skills to quickly become one of Dwayne Haskins’ favorite targets. Although he is going to have to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NFL game, he is talented enough to become Haskins’ long-term number two receiver. He can usually be had in the late third or early fourth round of 12-team rookie drafts.
– Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)
Lamical Perine (RB – NYJ)
I’ll happily grab Lamical Perine near the end of every rookie draft. We have all been made aware of the tension between Le’Veon Bell and Adam Gase. There have been reported rumors of a schism between the two since Bell signed his contract, and although things have quieted down, I doubt everything is settled between them. Bell may have signed a four-year deal, but the Jets have an out in his contract following this season. They can cut Bell in 2021 and only take a $6 million cap hit over the next two years. Therefore, I’ll take a shot on his potential successor in Perine. The former Florida State runner is a physical, downhill threat who averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground in his last collegiate season. He has also proven to be a reliable pass catcher, having caught 40 passes for 262 yards in 2019. Although Frank Gore will likely take any reserve work that was supposed to belong to Perine this season, the 36-year-old is also not likely to be in a Jet uniform next season. This is a long-shot gamble to take towards the end of the draft, but I’ll certainly keep Perine on my taxi squad. He could be the only running back on the Jets’ roster heading into the 2021 offseason.
– Dan Ambrosino (@AmbrosinoNFL)