5 Rookies Who Will Make an Immediate Impact in Fantasy Football

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We all love to choose our future stars in the last rounds of our fantasy football drafts, but what about those select rookies who will make an immediate impact?

When you pay to play fantasy football, you want to draft as many impact players as possible, and a few have yet to play a down in the NFL.

There will be rookies who will exceed expectations immediately, because they are able to start early or because they have weak competition ahead of them.

The following 5 incoming rookies will make an immediate impact for your fantasy football team in 2020.

1- CeeDee Lamb, WR/Dallas Cowboys

Lamb was the 3rd receiver taken after Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy and the Dallas Cowboys were relieved that arguably the NFL Draft’s most talented receiver was still on the boardwhen it came time to select.

While Lamb’s reception total wasn’t eye-popping with just 62 in his last season, his yards per reception and touchdown total were among the NCAA’s best.

In fact, his career-worst in yards per reception came in 2017 with an astounding 17.5 yards per reception.

Given that Lamb’s speed isn’t elite, it’s solid enough to provide separation. He was also among the best to gain yards after the catch, as shown in his yards per reception numbers.

Ceedee Lamb

While Lamb will enter the league as a WR3 in Dallas behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, he’ll receive plenty of targets early working from the slot. And if the Cowboys use plenty of 3-receiver sets, he’s poised to make a significant impact for the Dallas Cowboys.

For your fantasy football team, Lamb has good WR3 or Flex value, and he may grow into a solid WR2 toward the end of the season.

ESPN.com projects Lamb to have solid, but not eye-popping numbers.

Here are his projections to give you an idea of what he’ll achieve in 2020:

  • 50 receptions
  • 660 yards
  • 13.2 yards per reception
  • 5 touchdowns

2- Jerry Jeudy, WR/Denver Broncos

Jeudy walks into an ideal situation in Denver and barring catastrophe, figures to start his career as the Broncos WR2. The only viable receiver on the Broncos roster is Courtland Sutton, with a barren wasteland of talent behind him.

But the entire situation in Denver says Jeudy is ready to contribute early and often.

The Broncos have 3 running backs with starting-caliber ability in Phillip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon, and Royce Freeman.

Lindsay posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and will keep his status as featured back during the season.

Jerry Jeudy

Gordon is overrated but is serviceable enough to remain a relevant running back. Freeman can step in in a heartbeat if either Lindsay or Gordon goes down with an injury.

The importance of having 3 good running backs means defenses will creep up when they get going, allowing passing lanes to open for Jeudy.

This gives him even more opportunity to produce for your fantasy football team.

Jeudy is a fantastic WR3 or Flex option and he’s even a good WR2 if you play in a larger league with 12 or more owners.

Here are his projected statistics:

  • 55 receptions
  • 706 yards
  • 12.7 yards per reception
  • 4 touchdowns

3- D’Andre Swift, RB/Detroit Lions

Swift’s biggest advantage is that he comes from a pro-style offense, meaning his learning curve is less than those who came from a system offense. This puts Swift ahead of the curve and it gives him an opportunity to make an earlier impact in the 2020 season.

Swift will also split carries with Kerryon Johnson early but given Johnson’s injury history (he has missed 14 of 32 regular-season games) expect Swift to become the featured back.

Other than Johnson, Detroit’s running back room is weak, allowing Swift to receive more touches as the season wears on.

The only real downside for Swift is that he was never a full-time starter at the University of Georgia and given his small size, durability is a factor. However, his 6.2 yards per carry in 2019 was a career-worst, and that’s not exactly a bad thing, given his 6.4 and 7.6 yards per carry in his previous 2 seasons.

Dandre Swift

Those are good numbers and it shows the shifty Swift possesses quickness along with decent but not eye-popping speed and explosiveness.

Don’t expect too much from Swift early in the year as Johnson isn’t finished yet in Detroit but as 2020 progresses, look for Swift to become more involved in the offense.

If you like Swift, take him in the middle rounds of your fantasy football draft.

He may start on the bench in some leagues but by the end of 2020 he’ll be an RB2 or at least a solid Flex option. If he performs well in limited repetitions, he’ll become Detroit’s featured back sooner rather than later.

Here are his projected statistics:

  • 172 carries
  • 722 yards
  • 4.2 yards per carry
  • 5 touchdowns
  • 34 receptions
  • 283 yards
  • 1 touchdown

4- Jonathan Taylor, RB/Indianapolis Colts

While the Colts had a serviceable back in Marlon Mack, they took Taylor anyway. But in the long run, he’s a better option than Mack. Mack is solid, posting over 1,000 rushing yards in 2019 while scoring 8 touchdowns.

But – Taylor’s numbers at the University of Wisconsin were elite.

Okay, so a lot of running backs who have joined the NFL ranks from Wisconsin have turned out to be busts. You can name at least a dozen backs whose teams had high hopes for only to flame out, from Ron Dayne to Montee Ball.

Melvin Gordon, another Wisconsin back, has also disappointed. So what makes Taylor so special?

For starters, his numbers were legendary with the Badgers, posting back to back 2,000-yard campaigns. He also showed durability, carrying the ball between 299 and 320 times per season, rivaling that of a high-end NFL featured back.

Jonathan Taylor

But he’s also a freak of nature physically. He’s built like a power back at 226lb yet runs a 40-yard dash in just 4.39 seconds.

His strength is also above average.

These traits make Taylor a complete back and the fact he has Marlon Mack to complement him means he’ll remain fresh if he overtakes Mack.

Draft Taylor in the middle rounds even if signs show Mack to receive the bulk of carries early in the season.

By midseason, Taylor will cut into Mack’s opportunities, allowing more opportunity for the rookie back to emulate his collegiate numbers.

Taylor will ride the bench on your fantasy team early in the season, but he’ll eventually become an RB2 or solid Flex option. If you play in a Keeper or Dynasty league, Taylor’s a solid option to keep when he breaks out.

Here are Taylor’s projected statistics:

  • 166 carries
  • 702 yards
  • 4.2 yards per carry
  • 6 touchdowns
  • 16 receptions
  • 135 yards
  • 1 touchdown

5- J.K. Dobbins, RB/Baltimore Ravens

Dobbins is getting zero respect among fantasy experts but he was one of the best backs in college football and will have more of an effect than what they’re telling you.

In front of him on the depth chart are the aging Mark Ingram and the change of pace Gus Edwards.

But Dobbins will overtake Edwards when Week 1 approaches and may even take over for Ingram, who is entering his 10th NFL season.

While Dobbins is looking up, expect him to rise through Baltimore’s ranks fast and look for him to rise through the depth chart in camp and in the preseason. While on the smaller side, Dobbins can develop into a featured back and will be a 3-down option in time.

JK Dobbins

Given the Ravens high-scoring offense, Dobbins can score often even in a limited role so this inflates his value into the middle rounds. While he figures to begin as a Flex option in larger leagues with over 12 teams, he’ll morph into an RB2 or permanent Flex option as his rookie season progresses.

Please Note:
Take Dobbins in the middle rounds and even if he rides the bench in Baltimore early, when his opportunity comes, you’ll be grateful.

This is especially true if you’ve taken a couple of other running backs early, allowing you to place Dobbins in the Flex position.

Here are his projected 2020 statistics:

  • 95 carries
  • 409 yards
  • 4.3 yards per carry
  • 3 touchdowns
  • 18 receptions
  • 147 yards
  • 1 touchdown

Conclusion

These are just 5 of a few solid rookies for 2020. However, the above players are the ones most likely to make either an early impact or will make an impact by midseason.

Each player listed above has both talent and is walking into an ideal situation, putting the ball in their court to have a solid rookie season.

Lamb may begin as the Cowboys WR3 or slot receiver, but he’ll see a lot of passes coming his way making defenses having to key on Cooper while also making sure Gallup doesn’t take them by surprise.

Jeudy should walk right into Denver as the WR2, and Swift is competing for carries with the injury-prone Johnson.

These 2 should be immediate starters if not starters shortly after camp. Taylor will overtake Mack while Dobbins will work his way up as the year progresses.

What do you think of my picks? Did I leave anyone out? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.