CT’s Favorite Rookie Landing Spots

CT’s Favorite Rookie Landing Spots

We can do all the ranking and talking we want before the draft but year in and year out what really matters is the landing spot. Some landing spots may surprise us, but with no rookie camps we are forced to guess. So, without further ado here’s a list of my favorites.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB – KCC

CEH is my unquestioned 1.01 in all your standard 8-12 team dynasty leagues. Most people went into this offseason knowing the 1.01 would be whoever the Chiefs selected at running back if it was a day 1 or 2 pick. CEH fits the Chiefs system perfectly as he won’t be asked to pass block in their system. CEH comes into the league with only 370 career rushing attempts so he’s got plenty of tread left on the tires. Honestly the sky is the limit for CEH and while he may not be the unquestioned prospect that Saquon Barkley was, due to the landing spot a similar outcome is not out of the question. CEH could walk right into 100+ targets and 200+ carries in his rookie year. With Chiefs running backs averaging a healthy 4.2 yards per attempt in 2019, a top-20 fantasy finish is all but guaranteed for CEH in 2020.

Justin Jefferson – WR – MIN

An argument could be made for Justin Jefferson being the first WR taken in rookie drafts.  Jefferson seems to have an obvious high floor due largely to the fact that he steps into a clear role with very little competition in Minnesota. Adam Thielen has been hurt in the past, and Stefon Diggs benefited greatly playing the WR2 role in that offense. Diggs got 94 targets last year and there really isn’t anyone on this roster that should supplant Jefferson as the WR2. Olabisi Johnson was 3rd in targets last year with 45 and unless you believe Tajae Sharpe is a threat, Jefferson should slide into that WR2 role and have huge upside in 2020 and beyond. With Thielen turning 30 before Week 1, and there not being much dead money on his contract after 2022, Jefferson could be the Vikings WR1 in the not so distant future.

Joe Burrow – QB – CIN

The Tiger King walks into a great situation in Cincinnati, A.J. Green is healthy, Tyler Boyd just signed an extension, John Ross has loads of potential, and even Auden Tate showed flashes last year. They have the most underrated RB in the league in Joe Mixon paired with an offensive line that is finally going to be healthy in 2020. They may have a weakness at tight end with Uzomah as the number one, but Zac Taylor’s offense only threw to the tight end position on 19% of attempts in 2019. Burrow may not be an exceptional runner, but he has sneaky quick speed and could offer a few sneaks to keep teams honest in the red zone.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn – RB – TBB

This is more of a slight on Ronald Jones II than it is a backing of Vaughn. Ronald Jones does not look the part of an NFL running back. He’s been completely unpredictable in fantasy and frankly unplayable for large percentages of his career. Vaughn walks into a great landing spot with Bruce Arians new look Bucs. Arians comes from that Pittsburg mindset of carrying a bell cow running back, and bell cows are unicorns in today’s NFL. Not entirely unlike CEH, Vaughn is propelled by the sheer opportunity in his NFL team’s offense. Tampa Tom loves to throw to the running back out of the backfield and Vaughn could soak up all those targets and really give his owners a great floor if he wins the job. With the GOAT calling out protections and checking down to the run when the defense calls for it, Vaughn should be given ample opportunity to run against favorable fronts. 

CeeDee Lamb – WR – DAL

I love the Cowboys as a landing spot for Lamb. Lamb wasn’t a world breaker when playing against press coverage in the Big 12 and playing the slot will help him avoid press coverage all together. Lamb projects to play the slot in this offense and could see plenty of targets with defenses stressing about Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the outside. This will be the ‘Boys third attempt in as many years to get a productive slot receiver for Prescott but Lamb brings infinitely more potential to the position than Allen Hurns did in 2018, or Randall Cobb did in 2019. I love how excited the Jones family was in their draft room when Lamb fell to them and I hope new head coach, Mike McCarthy, can take advantage of what he has in his new WR3.

Denzel Mims – WR – NYJ

Denzel Mims was considered raw coming out, but I don’t believe he could have landed anywhere better. The Jets are desperate for help on the outside and down the field. Robby Anderson saw 6 targets per game and has since moved on to Carolina, likewise free agent Demaryius Thomas saw 5.3 targets per game for the Jets. Jamison Crowder and his 7.6 targets will continue to work the middle of the field but make no doubt about it, Mims was brought in to be the downfield threat and to play the X in Adam Gase’s offense. A role I believe he will excel at, unless you’re a Quincy Enunwa truther (yes, we still do exist), Mims will be the go-to receiver in this offense. Similar to the argument for Chris Godwin last year there are just too many targets to go around in this offense for Mims to be overlooked, the targets have to go somewhere so it’s just a game of guessing where they land. You could do much worse than betting on the 6’3” sub 4.4 receiver out of Baylor to produce out of the gate.

Michael Pittman Jr. – WR – IND

Michael Pittman Jr. may be the best under the radar pick up in your rookie draft. I’ve seen some mock drafts where he is going in the middle of the 2nd. Pittman projects excellently in this offense moving forward. T.Y. Hilton is 30 years old and entering the last year of his contract. Due 14.5 Million in 2020, it’s not unrealistic to see the Colts move on from him with the excellent drafting this front office has done since taking over. Parris Campbell will be the gadget guy in this system, but Pittman has a real chance to show that he can be the starter whenever Philip Rivers decides to retire. Rivers is 39 and only signed a 1-year deal so this team could look very different in 2021 and Pittman could be a big piece in that puzzle. It may be difficult counting on an unknown at the quarterback position outside of 2020, but you have to trust this front office and coaching staff to put a competitive team together once they eventually move on from Rivers.

J.K. Dobbins – RB – BAL

There are more carries to go around in Baltimore than John Harbaugh has players. Enter J.K. Dobbins.  Dobbins was a smart pick by Baltimore’s front office. Mark Ingram is 30-years-old, and the Ravens showed last year they prefer to rotate him out and keep everyone fresh. Gus Edwards is just a guy, and Justice Hill obviously didn’t blow the coaching staff away last year.  If he did, they wouldn’t have selected Dobbins in the second round. Even if Dobbins doesn’t produce immediately in 2020, his 2021 range of outcomes legitimately includes top-5 potential at the position. It would not be a surprise if the team moved on from Ingram after this year. Dobbins was considered a first round talent by many, and Baltimore could benefit from his ability to show up in big games. The Ravens surely believe they will be in a lot of them with reining MVP, Lamar Jackson, behind center for the foreseeable future.

Antonio Gandy-Golden – WR – WAS

Gandy-Golden will be on all my dynasty teams. Gandy-Golden is that perfect height/weight/speed combo that we all look for to blow up at the next level. He seemed to clean up his drop problem in 2019 which has been a knock on him. Also while he didn’t consistently face top corners playing at Liberty, he did have 17 receptions, 247 yards, and 2 touchdowns in 3 games against power 5 programs in 2019. Gandy-Golden should line up immediately in two-wide sets across from “Scary” Terry McClaurin. He faces competition from Kelvin Harmon, Steven Sims, and Trey Quinn. However, Gandy-Golden is more than just a combine sweetheart. He had consistent production throughout college and he is a smart player. I believe he will be a productive player for the Redskins while continuing to improve. It may take some time for him to adjust to the level of talent in the NFL, but if he puts it together we will all be wishing we drafted him come the fantasy playoffs.

Bryan Edwards – WR – LVR

Edwards may not have been the first receiver drafted by the Raiders this year, but he should be drafted before Ruggs in all formats outside of best-ball. Edwards projects as the X receiver in John Gruden’s offense with Ruggs and Renfrow playing the Y and slot respectively. While this assumes Edwards is healthy, he could absolutely lead the Raiders in targets in 2020. He’s by no means a finished product, but he can win in press and has the size and speed to be a threat on the outside in his first year. Following the draft, Mike Mayock was quoted as saying he had a second round grade on him. Gruden knows what he wants to do with the Raiders, and by drafting 3 receivers this year I feel like we are all about to see the true offense Gruden’s had in mind.

Devin Duvernay – WR – BAL

While Duvernay was productive at Texas the landing spot in Baltimore is excellent. He has burner speed and while he might not be the biggest guy, the Raven’s run first scheme should allow him to get the ball in space. I can’t help but remember that week 1 game last year between the Ravens and Dolphins. Hollywood Brown caught 4 of 5 for 147 and 2 touchdowns. Jackson was able to throw Brown into open space, and his speed took care of the rest. Duvernay may not be productive every game his rookie season, but don’t sleep on his speed, toughness, and drive. Voted a captain in the middle of his senior year at Texas, Duvernay is the type of player John Harbaugh could turn into a star. Speed doesn’t always translate for NFL receivers, but the system needs another receiver outside of Brown and Boykin. Jackson’s running ability is unlike anything the NFL has ever seen, but all that rushing only makes it easier for his receivers to find space.

 

There are lots of players missing from this list that have potential to make an impact year-one, but these are just my favorites. Once training camps begin (assuming they do), we will get a chance to see the chemistry these rookies have with their respective teams. This list could look very different following camps and pre-season games, but until then these are who I feel most confident drafting.

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