The class of 2020 figures to be a sensation. A deep NFL draft has supplied a depth of quality in terms of rookie talent not seen in many years.
Figuring out the winner of the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award is an NFL prop wager that can lead to a bettor cashing a tidy sum if they correctly identify the winner.
In the world of fantasy football, finding the impact rookies in your draft can prove to be the difference maker between a successful season and finishing out of the money.
It’s easy to peg some players who figure to deliver the goods. Joe Burrow will go right in under center for the Cincinnati Bengals. Receivers Henry Ruggs III (Las Vegas Raiders), Jerry Jeudy (Denver Broncos) and CeeDee Lamb (Dallas Cowboys) also should make immediate impacts.
Out of the backfield, D'Andre Swift (Detroit Lions), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs) and Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts) are a few that will definitely be worth watching.
Who’s beyond them, though? Every season, there’s a rookie nobody notices on draft day who becomes a fantasy football machine. Two years ago, it was New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, an all-purpose sensation who was the NFL OROY winner.
Last season, the odds of even hard-core Jaguars fans in Florida betting on sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew starting most of the season at quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars would’ve been astronomical.
Where are this year’s Kamara or Minshew? Which rookie sleepers should you consider including as a depth piece on your fantasy football team?
Let’s take a look at a few legitimate candidates.
Anthony McFarland Jr., Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
James Conner is one of the NFL’s feel-good stories. It’s difficult not to root for a guy who beat cancer as a teenager and made the most of his NFL shot with the Steelers when Le’Veon Bell held out for the entire 2018 season.
That being said, the NFL is also a cutthroat business. Today’s running back sensation is tomorrow’s also-ran. Just ask Todd Gurley how that works.
As impressive as Conner has proven in Pittsburgh, he’s also proven to be quite fragile. Over the last two years, he’s missed nine games through injury.
McFarland endured a nagging high ankle sprain during his final season at Maryland and slid all the way to the Steelers at 124th overall. He ran a 4.44-second 40 and is someone who is capable of breaking big plays. He displays Kamara-like qualities of elusiveness, and after he makes the tacklers miss at the line of scrimmage, McFarland can turn on the afterburners in the open field.
Pittsburgh will want to find ways to get the ball into his hands. If Conner’s injury issues continue, McFarland could get that chance to shine sooner rather than later.
Adam Trautman, Tight End, New Orleans Saints
Adam Trautman is a good fit with the New Orleans Saints. Photo by: @DaytonFootball (twitter.com).
The Saints love the short passing game. New Orleans has sought a big-play tight end ever since they traded Jimmy Graham. Could Dayton’s Trautman, selected 105th overall, eventually become that guy?
Trautman possesses all the physical tools to be an imposing tight end - length, height and a powerful frame. A former QB, his athleticism is off the charts. He’s displayed a knack for getting open and finding seams in tight areas. Trautman also utilizes his years as a basketball player to box out defenders and gain air time to grab high balls.
A.J. Dillon, Running Back, Green Bay Packers
Heads turned and jaws dropped when the Packers selected Utah State QB Jordan Love in the first round. Those jaws were again agape after the Packers opted for Boston College RB Dillon with their second-round pick.
As Green Bay reached the NFC Championship Game during the 2019 season, the two key performers for the Packers’ offense were QB Aaron Rodgers and RB Aaron Jones. Teams generally don’t spend high draft picks on running backs to leave them stewing on the bench. The Packers must have a plan in mind for Dillon to select him so high.
Dillon is the prototype of the old-school power back. When teams talk about pounding the rock at defenses, it’s with backs like Dillon in mind.
He ran the ball 300 times during his freshman season and finished his three-season college career with 845 rushing attempts. Dillon averaged 5.2 yards per carry while gaining 4,382 yards.
Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, New York Jets
Denzel Mims should start for the New York Jets. Photo by: YouTube.com screenshot.
The Jets entered the draft in desperate need of help at the wide receiver position. Most draft gurus suggested that they’d spend their first round pick on either Jeudy or Lamb. Instead, they waited until the second round to grab Baylor’s Mims with the 59th overall selection.
With the Bears last season, Mims caught 66 passes for 1,020 yards and 12 TDs. He ran an impressive 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He’s an athletic type who’s skill set is often paralleled to D.K. Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks. Mims is a physical presence and also a strong blocker, a talent that can keep him on the field for plenty of snaps in the NFL.
Someone has to start at wide receiver for the Jets, and that someone is going to catch a lot of passes. Mims has the talent to emerge as the No. 1 receiver in the Jets’ offensive scheme.
*Main Photo: Anthony McFarland Jr. could see a lot of the football with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo by: everipedia.org.