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Top Rookies to Avoid in Dynasty Leagues (2020 Fantasy Football)

May 22, 2020

Detroit’s RB usage has tempered D’Andre Swift’s fantasy value.

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Every year there are rookies that surprise and rise up the rankings once the season begins. We examined just this topic last week. Next up, we’re turning out attention to highly regarded first-year players who are raising red flags for our writers. Here are rookies inside the top-10 of our consensus rankings that our writers are avoiding.

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Q: Which rookie inside the top 10 are you avoiding the most?

D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)
I loved D’Andre Swift throughout the pre-draft process; the former Georgia Bulldog has all of the intangibles I look for in a running back, including speed, vision, and the ability to run a diverse route tree. He’s so versatile that he could easily become an every-down running back and fantasy football star if he were to play for a different team. Unfortunately, he was selected by the Detroit Lions. While I love Matthew Stafford and the potential for the Lions’ offense to be electric, running backs have historically not had much success in their backfield. Since 2013, there have only been three games out of 96 regular-season contests in which a Lions running back has rushed for over 100 yards. Despite Kerryon Johnson displaying featured-runner capability, head coach Matt Patricia has enforced a deathly running back committee during his tenure with the team. The former second-round pick played more than 75 percent of the snaps in just one game and more than 60 percent in less than a third of his healthy contests. The inevitable reality is that Swift will have a hard time seeing enough volume to become fantasy viable despite his impressive intangibles and second-round pedigree. Landing spots and situations often matter more than the talent of the player in them, so I’d rather avoid Swift in rookie drafts and buy him at a cheaper price after we see the RBBC ramifications on his fantasy value. As with any player, I would be willing to grab him if he falls far enough in the draft. Still, Swift’s circumstances are bad enough that I am completely fading him at his current ADP and most likely won’t consider him unless he becomes a bargain.
– Dan Ambrosino (@AmbrosinoNFL)

We know that landing spot matters far more for running backs than it does for wide receivers when it comes to fantasy football. For example, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift was viewed as the most complete back entering the 2020 NFL Draft, but he’s often the fourth-ranked rookie RB for dynasty purposes. That is because he was drafted by the Lions, who have rotated running backs in recent years. Worsening the situation is the presence of Kerryon Johnson, a 2018 second-round pick who is still just 22 years old. While Johnson has dealt with injuries and the Lions haven’t shown much faith in him as a bell-cow, his presence is still notable. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, and J.K. Dobbins all have paths to featured RB status as early as 2021. Swift doesn’t, which makes him a distant fourth in my rookie running back rankings.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

D’Andre Swift is more of a complete back than Lions incumbent starter Kerryon Johnson. However, the landing spot still isn’t ideal, as the Lions haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. Swift should see the majority of Detroit’s carries, but GM Bob Quinn believes the two backs will complement each other. Head coach Matt Patricia also prefers a running back-by-committee approach, evidenced by using multiple backs in each of the past few seasons. Swift has the talent, but the opportunity has to be there for running backs to succeed in fantasy. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, and J.K. Dobbins should all be selected ahead of Swift despite his dominance at Georgia. In his junior year, the 21-year-old logged 196 carries for 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns across 14 games. There is upside to selecting Swift, but the situation and lack of opportunity make him my fifth-ranked rookie RB.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)

Henry Ruggs III (WR – LV)
There are a couple of issues that I have with Ruggs III in dynasty leagues. The first has to do with his quarterback situation, as the Raiders are looking to replace Derek Carr as soon as possible. They signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year contract this offseason to bring competition to the position, but he has not shown he can stay healthy. The Raiders will likely play both quarterbacks this year and, when neither pans out, take a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL Draft. That means Ruggs could be on his third starting quarterback by 2021. The second issue has to do with Ruggs’ size. There is no denying his 4.27 40-yard dash speed, but he is only 5’11” and 188 pounds. He is going to have to adjust to NFL press coverage at the line of scrimmage. In his current situation, he reminds me of Cincinnati Bengals WR John Ross, who had an almost identical build to Ruggs with blinding speed that shot him up draft boards. Like Ruggs, Ross joined an offense that did not have the best quarterback to take advantage of his downfield ability. He has struggled with consistency and injuries throughout three NFL seasons. I liked Ruggs entering the NFL Draft, but his landing spot concerns me both for 2020 and future seasons. There are a lot of obstacles blocking him from living up to his full NFL potential.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI)
For whatever reason, wide receivers from TCU — Josh Doctson, Josh Boyce, and Jeremy Kerley to name a few — just haven’t panned out in the NFL over the past 20 years. Could Jalen Reagor break the stereotype, or will he join the list of Horned Frog receivers that couldn’t quite break through at the next level? As an Eagles fan, I want to believe he’s got some D.J. Moore in him, but he could also very well turn out to be Nelson Agholor, the last Philadelphia WR selected in the first round back in 2015. Thought of as a speedster heading into the NFL Combine, Reagor was expected to compete with Henry Ruggs III for the fastest 40-yard dash time. He instead ended up running just a 4.47. Not terrible, but also not great for a guy labeled a freakish athlete with game-changing speed. He also disappointed in the agility drills, finishing in the eighth percentile in the 20-yard shuttle and fifth percentile in the three-cone drill. But let’s not kill a guy over his performance at the combine, as that’s not always an indicator of success at the next level. Reagor had a fantastic sophomore season in 2018, catching 72 balls for 1,061 yards and nine touchdowns. The cause for concern is what happened in his junior year, when he only caught 43 passes for 611 yards and five touchdowns. However, per Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus, just three FBS wide receivers had a lower percentage of targets defined as accurate than Reagor’s 30.7. While that statistic is telling, it can’t be the only reason for the regression in production. Reagor struggled with drops throughout his collegiate career, dropping 6.5% of his passes in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, his YAC decreased year-over-year, going from 7.8 in 2017, to 5.9 in 2018, to just 3.8 in 2019. Nevertheless, Reagor is still considered an extremely dynamic and versatile playmaker coming out of college and could certainly string together multiple 1,000-yard seasons working with Carson Wentz. Let’s not forget, however, that the Eagles found success last season without much production from the WR position. Despite the opportunity in Philadelphia, Reagor brings considerable risk as the third-ranked WR in rookie dynasty leagues behind only CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Buyer beware.
– Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)

Jerry Jeudy (WR – DEN)
Jerry Jeudy comes in sixth in the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), one slot ahead of Cam Akers. I’m not so much avoiding Jeudy as I am taking other players at his current cost. Akers over Jeudy is a landslide for me, as the Rams’ rookie plays the more valuable position and is set up for what appears to be a lead back role from Day 1. Jeudy, on the other hand, enters a murky depth chart with uncertain quarterback play. For me, Jeudy sits more in a tier with Jalen Reagor and Justin Jefferson towards the back half of the first round, while Akers is firmly in the top half of the round. While Jeudy is a great player who has low bust risk, drafting him at the 1.06 slot in dynasty leagues is ill-advised. He’s far less likely to accrue value in his rookie season than Akers, or perhaps even both Reagor and Jefferson, who have clearer paths to WR2-level targets in 2020.
– Mark Leipold (@LeipoldNFL)

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