Who Will Be the Top Fantasy Football WR from the 2020 NFL Draft Class?
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The NFL Draft has come and gone, and what an experience it was for those fans starved of anything of relevance in the world of sports. Now that the top prospects of the 2020 NFL Draft class have landed with their new teams, it’s time to determine who to target for fantasy purposes. While some of those prospects drafted will be in play in redraft leagues as soon as this season, even more will factor into dynasty league startup drafts or rookie/free agent drafts.
With an eye on those in dynasty leagues, we’ve asked our writers to name who they feel will be the top fantasy asset at the wide receiver position three years from now.
Q: Three years from now, who will be the top wide receiver fantasy asset from the 2020 NFL Draft class?
CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
Three years from now, the wide receiver from this class that I’d bank on being the best is CeeDee Lamb. Getting drafted by the Cowboys doesn’t exactly bring immediate upside from a fantasy perspective, given the competition of Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Michael Gallup. Long term, however, Lamb is now tied to a productive quarterback in Dak Prescott and a solid offensive line. Depending on your scoring system, Prescott has been a QB1 in each of his first years, and he consistently throws 450+ pass attempts each season. Whether Cooper is with the Cowboys in three years or not, Lamb has all the opportunity to show that he’s not only better than Gallup, but is fully capable of being an offense’s WR1. From a long-term perspective, the guy I want from this talented wide receiver class is definitely CeeDee Lamb.
– Aaron Schill (@aaron_schill)
When evaluating this class of rookie wide receivers, it’s important not just to evaluate them as individual players, but to also analyze their landing spots. CeeDee Lamb, who many analysts thought would be the first wideout taken this past weekend, wound up falling to the Dallas Cowboys with the 17th overall pick. At first glance, this is an exciting outcome, as Lamb joins an offense that ranked first in yards per game and sixth in points per game in 2019. The 20-year-old out of Oklahoma undoubtedly makes them better. However, he’ll have to compete for targets with the recently paid Amari Cooper and the ascending Michael Gallup. Particularly in an abnormal offseason, this could affect his 2020 production. The good news is that Lamb still has a path to becoming Dak Prescott’s number one receiving option. Dallas is realistically only committed to Cooper for two more seasons, which is the same timeline for Gallup to become a free agent. If Lamb is as special of a player as we think he might be, the Cowboys could decide that he is the receiver to pay moving forward. Yet even if all three stick around, Lamb figures to eventually overtake Gallup for number two duties, and it’s not as if modern offenses can’t support two fantasy viable receivers. Lastly, let us note that Lamb is simply good. He led this rookie class in yards per route run as well as yards per target.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
The Dallas Cowboys have an out from Amari Cooper’s mega-contract after the 2021 season, which could give them two years (plus a fifth-year option) with Lamb and Michael Gallup as their primary receivers, plus anyone they add in the interim. Lamb was no-doubt the highest upside receiver in this class, and he’s as much of a sure thing as we can get at the position. Lamb should jump Gallup on the depth chart before long, and as he’s staring down the WR1 role in a few years, the only question is who is throwing the passes. The Cowboys need to make signing Dak Prescott a priority for the health of their franchise, and insulating Lamb’s fantasy stock would be the icing on the cake. Lamb’s combination of contested-catch ability and YAC prowess make him a true do-it-all receiver for the modern NFL passing game. Even if he’s stymied early in his career, give him a long leash to climb the depth chart.
– Mark Leipold (@LeipoldNFL)
I’m not entirely sure CeeDee Lamb is the best wide receiver in this class. By no means was he a lock for this choice. The 2020 draft class has a lot of great receivers, but none are truly “sure things.” With that said, Lamb is a very good receiver with the potential to be great in the right situation. There aren’t many better landing spots than Dallas. Lamb may not splash as a rookie outside of a handful of plays, but being tethered to one of the league’s best young quarterbacks is simply ideal. Amari Cooper’s extension has no guaranteed money beyond 2021. It may take a year or two for Lamb to truly break out, but he is poised to be Dak Prescott’s primary target — with Michael Gallup on the other side — beginning in the 2022 season. In the meantime, Lamb could still be a productive real-life player. Three-receiver sets are becoming much more commonplace in the modern NFL. Randall Cobb had moments of brilliance in 2019, and Lamb is a better talent than Cobb by a wide margin. The signs should be there during his rookie season. Three years from now, Lamb will be locked in as a second-round fantasy pick. I’m not sure you can confidently say that about any other receiver in this class.
– Jason Katz (@jasonkatz13)
Lamb has a lot of good things going for him in Dallas that should help his fantasy value both as a rookie and long-term. The first is stability at head coach. Mike McCarthy just signed a five-year contract this offseason, so it’s highly unlikely that he is going anywhere soon. McCarthy loved passing the ball in Green Bay, and I would expect the Cowboys to pass the ball enough for Lamb to have an immediate fantasy impact as the third receiver and in three years as the second or first option. Second, there is stability at the quarterback position. Dak Prescott has had four excellent seasons. Even though he is currently playing under the franchise tag, the expectation is that Dallas will sign him to a long-term deal. Prescott produced an elite 4,902 yards passing and 30 passing touchdowns last year. Third, the Cowboys have a ton of weapons in the offense. Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott are both under contract for the long term. They have a great offensive line. This offense has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL for the next five seasons. Lamb is not going to see constant double or triple teams, nor is he going to see the opponent’s best defensive back. There are other receivers who could outperform Lamb in three years. Jerry Jeudy is a better route runner, but his quarterback situation and head coach stability are not the same as Lamb. Henry Ruggs III has head coach stability in Jon Gruden, but their quarterback situation is up in the air. Although Justin Jefferson has quarterback security with Kirk Cousins signing an extension this offseason, he is on a team that hates throwing the football. This was a very talented wide receiver class, and a number of them could emerge as the best. Nobody has the complete package of coaching security in a pass-friendly offense, an established quarterback, and a good supporting cast that Lamb has in Dallas this year and beyond. When you combine that with elite physical talent, Lamb is my choice.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Justin Jefferson (MIN)
Justin Jefferson may not have the name-brand value of CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, but he could end up as the best receiver in this class when all is said and done. He made a name for himself during his last two years at LSU, where he became a solid possession receiver and reliable slot option for Joe Burrow. He tied James Proche for the most receptions in the FBS in 2019, grabbing 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. While he may not be the most polished route-runner in his class, the 6’1″ wideout makes up for it with his impressive catch radius and large frame. Jefferson is also one of the best slot receivers to come out of this class. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked in the top-12 in yards per route run, broken tackles, and 15+ yard catches among all college slot receivers in 2019. His 4.43 speed and 37.5-inch vertical jump give him a unique skill set that should translate well to the NFL. Jefferson’s situation combined with his talent gives me cause to believe he could edge out his draft classmates in terms of fantasy production. Playing alongside Adam Thielen, Jefferson will easily be able to exploit single-coverage, as he will likely be guarded by the opposition’s No. 2 cornerback. In Gary Kubiak’s system, the play-action passing game will allow Jefferson to take advantage of sparse coverage over the middle of the field and single-high safety coverages. He’ll be one of the few receiving threats in this offense, so he will have the opportunity for extensive receiving volume and red-zone work that rivals the wideouts selected above him. Lastly, Jefferson is fortunate enough to have Kirk Cousins as his quarterback. While Cousins gets a lot of unwarranted animosity, he can easily support multiple wide receivers for fantasy. In 2018, both Stefon Diggs and Thielen finished as WR1s with Cousins slinging them the ball. Cousins has completed over 70 percent of his passes and ranked in the top half of the league in deep ball completion percentage during his tenure with the Vikings. He is easily in the upper echelon of passers who will be throwing to a first or second-round wide receiver. Considering many of these rookie wideouts will play with young, unproven quarterbacks for their first few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jefferson skyrocket up the ranks in this draft class given the stability of his situation and the skill of his quarterback.
– Dan Ambrosino (@AmbrosinoNFL)
Jefferson hauled in 111 of 134 targets for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns in his junior year at LSU. With Stefon Diggs traded to Buffalo, it leaves a void of 94 targets and 783 offensive snaps. Kirk Cousins recently signed a two-year extension this offseason and will be in Minnesota beyond 2020. The Vikings’ offense is capable of producing top-20 fantasy wide receivers, which it has in the past. Jefferson will most likely line up in the slot and should see single coverage, as star wideout Adam Thielen figures to draw the opposing team’s best corner. The 21-year-old hauled in 12 of 13 contested catches in 2019, the highest rate in college football, per PFF. He has reliable hands and terrific route-running ability. With the lack of depth behind Thielen, Jefferson has an easy path to becoming one of Cousins’ top targets. Jefferson might not be a household name like CeeDee Lamb, but his situation puts him in the best position to succeed in the next three years.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)
Tee Higgins (CIN)
This wide receiver class is loaded, but give me Tee Higgins to be the best option a few years down the road. The Clemson product slipped a bit in the NFL Draft after many people expected him to land in the first round. But he didn’t fall much farther, as the Cincinnati Bengals took him with the first pick in the second round. He may not be the WR1 on his team right now, but he’s got a lot going for him and his future outlook. Higgins reminds many people of Mike Williams, another former Clemson receiver, as a big receiver who uses his size to his advantage and makes downfield plays. This is evidenced by his 19.1 yards per reception mark in 2019. He’s also a reliable pass-catcher; per PFF, he dropped just six of 120 catchable passes over the past two seasons. Additionally, Higgins recorded 28 contested catches throughout his college career. Moreover, this will likely be A.J. Green‘s final year with the Bengals, so Higgins will have the opportunity to fill in for Green when he’s gone. In fact, Tyler Boyd and John Ross are currently the only two receivers under contract past the 2020 season, so Higgins could quickly become a staple in the passing offense. He’s also tied to Joe Burrow for the foreseeable future, and they’ll have plenty of time to establish a strong connection with each other. Burrow and Higgins had been working out together this offseason, so it’s fair to assume they’ve already built some chemistry. Higgins could find the field this season in three-wideout sets with a chance to see more playing time in the years to come.
– Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen)
Higgins was a touchdown machine at Clemson in three seasons, and I was shocked to see him drop to the second round even if it was the first selection. He posted 59 receptions in both seasons, going for 936 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Higgins capped off his Clemson career tied with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins for the most receiving touchdowns in school history with 27. Pairing him with Joe Burrow can be one of the most famous QB-WR duos drafted in the same class over the last decade, and one thing they have in common is their efficiency down the field. I thought Higgins was the best deep threat in the class, and he posted a 94.5 PFF grade on targets past 20 yards to where Burrow had a ridiculous 99.3 grade on throws over 20 yards. From 10-19 yards, Higgins posted a 92.1 grade and Burrow a 95.1. These two are going to connect for a lot of big plays in the future and at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, who is better to learn under than the 6-foot-4, 207-pound A.J. Green? Higgins and Burrow are a match made in heaven for Cincinnati, and that’s coming from a Steelers fan.
– Vaughn Dalzell (@VaughnDalzell)
Laviska Shenault (JAC)
I’d like to offer a different perspective with a situation that might not be as appealing from day one, but has immense opportunity to grow over the coming years. Although Laviska Shenault’s landing spot in Jacksonville isn’t optimal right now, there are two likely outcomes for what his quarterback situation might look like going forward. Either Gardner Minshew ends up being a successful starter, or the Jaguars wind up near the top of the 2021 NFL Draft and select someone like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. Either way, Shenault should have someone getting him the ball, and his ability as an overall playmaker will lead to extra touches on handoffs and screens. Let’s not forget, we’re talking about a guy who was considered a top-10 prospect before this season who still produced at an impressive rate despite battling injury and inconsistent quarterback play. When it’s all said and done, don’t sleep on Shenault as a prospect who could blow up the league.
– Peter Gofen (@PeterJaguars)
Jerry Jeudy (DEN)
There is another receiver who might be more likely to become the top WR asset that you may have already heard of, but let us take this a different direction. Jerry Jeudy, drafted as the second-highest WR, didn’t land in an ideal landing spot compared to some, but there is still plenty of upside for the former Alabama star. The jury is still out on Drew Lock, so the QB situation is a bit of a question mark. However, it feels that fantasy owners are not giving Jeudy enough of a chance to surpass Courtland Sutton. While Sutton has been a solid NFL player, especially when considering his situation over the past two seasons, Jeudy was a more highly regarded talent coming out of college. That was also reflected in the draft capital spent on both receivers. As a former second-round selection, Sutton only has two years remaining on his rookie contract. There is no guarantee that Denver brings him back after the 2021 season.
– Kyle August (@kyleFFfellas)