It’s NFL Draft Week 2020! I hope you are all planning to celebrate in some kind of awesome way. I will be setting up a draft prediction pool and running a Zoom poker night while the picks come in. This is the closest thing to sports we’ve had since the shutdown and we have to bask in its glow.
While I think it’s valuable to have your favorite prospects in some tiered order pre-draft, there’s no way to ignore that landing spot matters to some extent. In dynasty I think your own talent evaluation should be weighted most, but for redraft leagues landing spot is very important in how we should view a rookie’s year 1 potential. I have laid out my rankings for QB, RB, WR, and TE previously but now will give you my favorite rookie landing spots.
Once the draft actually happens, I’ll have to overlay player rankings and team contexts to arrive at some final conclusions. At the very least, this should help you know what team to hope your favorite prospect goes to this weekend!
Tampa Bay – Immediate need: High; Team context: Great
The Bucs have met with 11 RB prospects during the offseason, second most of any team. They lost plodder Peyton Barber who saw 170 touches and scored 6 TDs in 2019. It’s hard to believe the team views Ronald Jones as a feature back given the time and effort they have done to scout the position leading into the draft. Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin will ensure very few stacked fronts and we know Brady’s penchant for peppering backs with targets. Whoever they select will have as good an opportunity as anyone to secure at least a 50/50 split immediately.
Miami – Immediate need: High; Team context: Good
Miami has only visited with 5 RBs but they are Taylor, Swift, Dobbins and Akers plus local prospect Deejay Dallas. This tells me they are only worried about the top 4 backs and will be using a 1st or 2nd round pick to get their guy. They brought in Jordan Howard to be a useful veteran, but he is an incomplete player. At the very least a passing down role will be available day 1, and probably an open door to walk into bellcow use.
Atlanta – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Great
In a devastating blow to all our fantasy dreams, the Falcons signed former stud Todd Gurley to a one year contract in free agency. However, that didn’t stop them from meeting with a league high 12 RBs during the draft process. The presence of Gurley means a rookie may have some sort of split out of the gate instead of a featured week 1 role, but there is still plenty of room to make a fantasy impact in this offense. For the dynasty minded, Gurley is probably not long for the red and black, so whoever lands here now will likely be unleashed in 2021.
Houston – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Good
Another team that initially looked like a prime destination for a rookie RB had to go ruin it by signing a washed up veteran. Well, they didn’t just sign him they traded DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson. Regardless of what we in the fantasy community think of DJ, the Texans are going to use him. They clearly want to add another back, however, as they have been active and met with 11 prospects this winter. Like the Atlanta situation, you may need to have patience but this is still a good spot for “your guy” to land.
San Francisco – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Great
Sign me up for any back in that Shanahan system we saw last year. The ‘9ers famously cobbled together a great running game without their highest paid runner (Jerick McKinnon), underperforming Tevin Coleman, and 3 UDFAs in Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. As of now they all return in 2020, but the quality of the scheme is so good and the incumbent talent is so thin, I think there are many rookies who could see significant fantasy production in this committee. While unlikely, with a stout young defense and an extra 1st round pick, the Niners could surprise and take a back in the first round. I think any of Taylor, Dobbins, Swift or Akers has the talent to secure a major role quickly.
Buffalo – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Medium
There have been whispers of Buffalo wanting a new RB all offseason. First they were rumored to be in the MGIII sweepstakes and now many industry mocks have them taking a back with one of their top picks. Of course, Devin Singletary is there but the buzz is that he’ll be a solid but complimentary piece. Should the Bills nab a RB in the 2nd round, I can see them ready to give him the majority of early down work along with goal line looks. Josh Allen will also still have a big role near the end zone.
Seattle – Immediate need: Low; Team context: Good
I don’t think anyone really knows what is going to happen in the Seahawks backfield in 2020. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are both coming off serious injuries and their week 1 status is not yet certain. This team wants to pound the rock so adding some fresh legs feels possible, and I would take a shot on whoever they bring in. Even if Carson is ready, he’s in the final year of his rookie deal and could seek a bigger paycheck elsewhere in 2021.
Pittsburgh – Immediate need: Low; Team context: Good
James Conner was injured but lackluster in 2019 and the Steelers had no good answer when he went down. Granted, the entire offense was atrocious with the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, but I think a RB could be in the cards this weekend. Conner will still have the job if healthy but it’s unlikely they resign him in 2021 and then this year’s rookie could shine.
Philadelphia – Immediate need: High; Team context: Great
The Eagles will take a WR with one of their top 2 picks, and whoever lands there will be in the perfect situation. Alshon Jeffery’s status continues to be murky and even if he plays, it’s clear he’s a shell of his WR1 self. DeSean Jackson is 34 and still fast but is no longer a feature receiver. Last year’s bust JJ Arcega-Whiteside still has a long way to go, and after that the depth chart falls apart. They’d have to trade up for my WR1 CeeDee Lamb, but there are plenty of exciting options that will be there at pick 21.
Las Vegas – Immediate need: High; Team context: Good
The Raiders are not going to head into 2020 with Tyrell Williams as their WR1. Derek Carr leaves a lot to be desired, but he can support solid fantasy WRs as he did in 2015 and 2016. Whoever gets taken by Vegas will walk into a lead receiving role and that’s the best you can ask for when drafting rookies.
New York Jets – Immediate need: High; Team context: Medium
The Jets’ offense is teetering on disgusting, but the presence of Sam Darnold keeps it at “medium” for one more offseason. Adam Gase’s scheme remains a concern as well. However, there is no denying that a WR selected to the Jets will have every opportunity to lead their receiver corps. This team is desperate for an alpha WR, someone just needs to step up and claim it.
Baltimore – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Good
I remain unconvinced that Hollywood Brown is a high volume WR1. While Mark Andrews is uber efficient and looked fantastic in 2019, there appears to be an opening for a consistent, target eating receiver. Should the Ravens dip into the WR pool I would pay attention, but don’t go overboard. Unfortunately the passing volume will likely remain low, and the best fantasy producer on the Ravens will be Lamar Jackson.
Denver – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Medium
Most mocks have a WR going to the Broncos with their first pick, but I think this is a tough place to get very excited about a rookie for fantasy purposes. Courtland Sutton has the look of a dominant WR1 and Noah Fant will continue to see use in the passing game. Drew Lock is an aggressive passer so that is a plus for fantasy, but any newcomer probably won’t be seeing a lot of targets in the short term.
Indianapolis – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Medium
The quarterback situation in Indy is volatile as we only know that Philip Rivers will take the snaps in 2020. After that, it could be a 2020 rookie, a 2021 rookie, Jacoby Brissett, or a different free agent. We do know that there is a clear need for a second option behind TY Hilton, who turns 31 during the season. While the Colts clearly want to run the ball, I like this spot for good production in 2020 and a decent chance at WR1 duties as soon as 2021.
Minnesota – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Medium
After dealing Stefon Diggs to Buffalo, there is now a very elite pair of purple and gold shoes to fill. Like Indy, the Vikings would love to feed the run game more than anything else. However their defense is showing signs of age and the secondary disintegrated in 2019, opening up some favorable game scripts for the passing game. The defense gave up 16 points per game weeks 1-6 but then 21 points per game weeks 7-16. I think more of the latter will happen in 2020, so an incoming rookie will have plenty of opportunity.
Green Bay –Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Medium
The Packers need a good WR2 behind stud Davante Adams, and most mocks point to them addressing this in the first round. The issues for fantasy is that Adams has always smashed in the red zone and Aaron Rodgers is famously stubborn with his targets. This is a great environment for a rookie to land, but with Adams dominating scoring opportunities I wouldn’t expect a 1st year that helps your fake team too much.
New Orleans – Immediate need: Medium; Team context: Medium
The situation in Green Bay is almost the same as in the French Quarter, where the Saints need a second receiver to pair with all world Michael Thomas. With the long view in mind, the Saints get knocked again because of the likelihood that the Drew Brees era ends after 2020.
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