Jason Eldred gives his take and 2020 Superflex Rookie Rankings leading up to the NFL Draft Thursday Night.
|12||Henry Ruggs III||WR|
|18||Michael Pittman Jr.||WR|
|26||Anthony McFarland Jr.||RB|
Tier 1 Notes
The top tier consists of five players who offer elite upside with an outstanding floor. I have seen some draft analysts drop Tua due to concerns over his medicals, however; with the information provided by his team, his health does not present a big concern for me. He is equally, if not more talented than Burrow, but I believe Burrow’s expected landing spot in Cincinnati provides a decent opportunity for him to shine in year one. I do not believe that Jonathan Taylor offers the most upside, but his relatively safe floor paired with his ability to carry a massive workload elevates him above the rest. When I evaluate receivers, I look for three traits. First, can they beat press coverage and release off the LOS creating separation. Secondly, do they possess reliable hands. Finally, I value agility in receivers routes (hip sinking, change of direction, body control) which could lead to effective route-running. CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy possess near-elite or elite marks in these areas and are awfully close in ranking, but Lamb outranks him because of his ball skills and creativity as a receiver. Both receivers profile as WR1 options in dynasty.
Tier 2 Notes
This is my favorite tier. Give me two selections in this tier as opposed to one in Tier 1 all day. Any time I can talk about Justin Jefferson, I will. I think he is the safest prospect in this year’s draft. His routes are crisp, exhibits the ability to loosen his hips and beat defenders with body manipulation. His upside is not as high as Lamb’s, so he settles in nicely as a near “can’t miss” prospect in Tier 2. For fantasy, Swift and Dobbins hopefully land in optimal RB situations and could be low-end RB1 options this year. Edwards-Helaire offers a ton of upside as a three down back and could surprise most of us and be the RB1 from this class due to his ability to beautifully blend his physical traits, lateral quickness, and nuanced routes as a receiver. Cam Akers has been discussed at length in every forum, and I believe he has a chance to excel behind a competent NFL offensive line. My only concern about Akers is if he will be able to shake any fears about making quick and decisive cuts and trusting his line. Based on his FSU tape, he is powerful and knows how to use it, so I am expecting RB2 numbers in year one or two. The last person I wanted to touch on in this tier is Henry Ruggs III. This is admittedly a cowardly take, but I think Ruggs possesses the raw talent to be the WR1 from this class. The coward part comes from my ranking at 1.12. Although I am hedging my bet, he clearly possesses elite game-changing speed and will run straight past you if the DB is not pressing him. What Ruggs can do in space is special, although I would have liked more creativity. An underrated aspect in his game are his hands. Pair that with a more nuanced route tree than given credit for, he has the makings of a potential dynasty darling. My pause is a manifestation of fears that he will be consistently pressed or bullied by physical corners who can limit his damage and the lack of collegiate production. However, He is firmly my WR4 of this class and possesses as much upside as ANY receiver coming out. If you want some more gas, here it is buried in this article so only the real ones reading this will find it. Denzel Mims looks like he could be a star. I think he will be selected on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, and think he will be deployed early on in the X-receiver role due to his catch radius and impressive long speed. Draft and enjoy.
Tier 3 Notes
According to the data compiled to the guys at Devy Watch, Bryan Edwards has the earliest break-out age (17.8) of any collegiate athlete they have calculated. My favorite trait about Bryan Edwards is his versatility that he could provide an NFL team. I feel he can play on the outside, the bigger slot role, and on special-teams. He is impressive physically and will break off tackles with relative ease. He needs work on his routes to truly excel at the next level, but I am willing to use a late 1st round pick on him as he has tools that can develop. Tee Higgins is certainly a polarizing player. I have always felt lower on him than the dynasty community, but feel like this is his “sweet spot”. I think he will struggle to separate, and is not a gifted athlete. Early on, I hammered him for being a vertical threat without elite speed, but I rewatched some Clemson tape and the guy simply dominates on 50/50 catches. Yes, if he were more elusive or more of a route technician, some of those would not be contested situations, but he clearly has talent and I will take a shot on him in the beginning of round 2 in rookie drafts. Anything earlier and you may be disappointed, but he has a profile that may resemble Mike Williams. Is that really so bad? Not every pick can be the next elite guy. Laviska Shenault is the ultimate value proposition. His skills and tape suggest he could be a WR1 in this league and there are very few who question his talent. Injuries are a part of the game and everyone is at risk. But Shenault constantly seems to be dealing with nagging injuries of varying severity levels and it is a concern, especially in a class that has so many different WR prospects. However, he truly can win in all levels of the field and is as smooth as they come breaking in and out of routes.
Tier 4 Notes
If you know me, you are probably laughing because you know I am about to talk about Donovon Peoples-Jones. Affectionately known as “DPJ”, he is a former 5-star recruit who statistically did not live up to the standards that pundits put on him. However, if you watch his tape, he consistently flashed traits that could evolve into a valuable skill-set at the next level. In particular, he displayed an expansive route tree, plays big and will not get bullied, and has explosiveness to improve on his YAC. Needs to work on his hands, but this is a player who will consistently get drafted in the second round or later in rookie drafts and has a chance to outperform his ADP. Keep an eye on DPJ, he has potential and a cheap price tag. Antonio Gandy-Golden from Liberty is a guy I liked watching early in my evaluation process and love his size and catch radius. He consistently was the best player on tape in his matchups but I am afraid the dynasty community may be higher on him than the NFL. Separation is essential for WRs, and I see that being an issue for him. He has a role as a red zone threat, but think he could be more a 50 target a year player, especially early on. The analytics community loves Tyler Johnson due to his break-out age of 19.0 and college dominator rating of 40.98% as a senior at Minnesota. I find it frightening that he was not invited to the Senior Bowl, reportedly denied or did not participate at the Shrine Game, and did not run the 40 at the Combine in Indianapolis. To me, this leads me to believe he wanted to try and control the narrative about his average athleticism and this worries me. He obviously has talent, but the red flags are there and I will likely let someone else draft him, based on my rankings.
Tier 5 Notes
Van Jefferson is the son of a former NFL WR/WR Coach and he plays like it. His routes are technically sound, crisp, and fluid. He seems to understand the nuances of each route which he uses to manipulate defenders. Although he is savvy, I would be remiss if I failed to mention his age. Jefferson will be 24 as a rookie. Additionally, his production in college was modest to say the least as he never eclipsed 700 yards in the 5 years at Ole Miss/Florida (redshirted his freshman year). However, his skills are transferable to the next level and he could produce in the slot and in the right system. Isaiah Hodgins has magnificent hands and he showcased this throughout his collegiate career, especially last year when he hauled in 86 receptions. He is not athletically gifted in regards to NFL prospects, but can win on the outside. Not as physical as you would hope for, but has tools teams can mold. Limited prospect, but one with potential.
Tier 6 Notes
I am aware that I am awfully low on Eno Benjamin. He has aspects of his game that are exciting and can extend plays with his balance and durable frame. However, he is not overly patient and his athletic skills on tape do not lend itself to a player that will ever be the lead back in a committee. Has a role he can fulfill for a team, just think it is one that is limited in regards to fantasy production. Lamical Perine is not an exciting prospect, but what he adds is someone who is at least average in every aspect of being an NFL RB who has no glaring flaws. In my opinion, his ceiling is capped, but he could realistically step into a committee and garner 150 touches as a rookie. In perspective, for a player this late in the rankings, you could do far worse. John Hightower is a player to keep an eye on and someone I expect to be drafted higher than some expect. I say this for several reasons, but notably because he can separate from defenders with his speed and elusiveness. He is very raw and is someone who will not be an immediate return on investment, but if your leagues have Taxi Squads, he is the epitome of players who belong there. Draft in the mid to late rounds of your rookie drafts as someone who has potential as a future WR4/5.
Tier 7 Notes
A true testament to the depth of this 2020 class, I think you can find players who profile as guys who can make a roster and provide fantasy relevance. James Proche is an example of that player, and someone who I think has top 3 hands in this entire class. He was uber productive at SMU, but he is someone who has limitations when projecting to the NFL (separation and size). I believe he has the potential of earning a slot role and being a priority add in PPR formats. Quintez Cephus has NFL traits (contested catch-ability) but his red-flags are concerning. He will certainly get a shot, and I have seen some analysts who I respect move him up, but I see more concerns and barriers to success than positives at this point. Adam Trautman from Toledo has some traits that could translate to an “in-line” TE. An in-line TE is valuable in today’s game because they are tasked with an initial block off the LOS and then move off into space as a receiver. This requires obvious blocking traits, but more importantly, someone in fantasy who does not have to come off the field and who can gobble up the valuable reception. He needs refinement, but his athletic traits are there on tape and has the size for it.
I hope you all enjoyed the rankings and narrative of my thoughts on some of the players in each tier. Feel free to reach out on Twitter and talk some ball, and keep up with the teams rankings here on RotoHeat! It’s draft week, get hyped!