By Alex Kurpeski
The fantasy football playoffs are nearly over, which means that many of you are now looking forward to next year. And for those of you wondering, yes next year WILL be the year you finally win the elusive championship, thanks to the advice of your friends here at 3CoSports.
With College Football Bowl season approaching fast, the future stars of the 2020 NFL Draft class will be taking these next few months to solidify their standing as draft prospects. While we have no idea where anybody will go just yet (or what kind of situation they will be walking into), it’s never to early to take a look into our crystal ball, and (attempt to) predict the future.
So without further adieu, let’s take a look at our latest Big Board for offensive prospects in this year’s draft class.
- D’Andre Swift, RB Georgia
Swift is by far the most complete back in this draft class. The 20 year-old Swift has been a key component of Georgia’s rushing attack since his arrival in Athens. Swift has tallied over 1,000 yard from scrimmage in back-to-back seasons now, setting the tone for a high-powered Bulldogs offense.
Swift projects similarly to players like Alvin Kamara and Josh Jacobs, a viable pass-catching threat with the chops to be a productive three-down back. Assuming he tests well and interviews appropriately, there’s no doubt in my mind that Swift will be the first running back off the board this spring, likely walking into a starting role immediately.
2. Jerry Jeudy, WR Alabama
Jeudy has been one of the most-hyped receiver prospects this decade, and for good reason. The junior is a crisp route-runner which combined with his physical profile, makes him virtually unguardable. Similar to Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley before him, Jeudy has the skill and technique to succeed immediately as the WR1 in a team’s offense. With several teams in-need of a dynamic pass-catcher like Jeudy, it would be shocking to see him last beyond the top 5 selections, at this point.
3. Jonathan Taylor, RB Wisconsin
Taylor has been the catalyst for the Badgers offense since his arrival, tallying nearly 2,000 rushing yards in all three of his seasons at Wisconsin. A classic power runner, Taylor has only recently been relied upon as a receiving threat, as he caught just 16 passes in his first two seasons with the team (compared to 24 catches already in 2019).
For Taylor, the transition from College Football to the NFL may be a bit tough, as he will need to show that he can pass-protect and catch passes if he hopes to see the field much. JT’s production at Wisconsin suggests that he will be an immediate factor for whichever team selects him, however his ultimate upside will be revealed when we see whether or not he can hang on passing downs. If Taylor is able to improve this aspect of his game, he could very well be the best RB in this class.
4. CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma
Anytime a guy is compared to DeAndre Hopkins, you know there’s something special about him. In the case of CeeDee Lamb, to Hopkins comparisons are entirely justified. At 6’2 and a slender, yet powerful 195 lbs, Lamb moves and battles for position just like D-Hop. While it’s unclear whether Lamb has the same super-glue hands that Hopkins possesses, he has proven to be an extremely dangerous playmaker in Lincoln Riley’s offense these past few years.
Many draftniks have ranked Lamb ahead of Jeudy, based on his upside alone. While I did not do that in this edition of the Big Board, I think the gap between the two receivers is extremely close at this point. For me, I would consider taking Lamb ahead of Jeudy, should he end up on a team like Arizona (Air Raid = pass-happy).
5. Chuba Hubbard, RB Oklahoma State
One caveat to begin this segment. I feel like the redshirt-sophomore Hubbard may be returning to school this fall (he should). However, if he stays in this draft, there will be many teams intrigued by his breakout 2019 campaign, that saw Hubbard rush for almost 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Likewise, Hubbard’s relatively low touch-count (just 476 touches in his college career, compared to nearly 1,000 for guys like Taylor) could help his draft-stock, like it did with Josh Jacobs last season.
With his breakaway speed, something tells me that Andy Reid and the Chiefs will be taking a long look at the young Oklahoma State product. Should Hubbard enter the draft, I believe he has a chance to be the most dynamic fantasy option out of any RB in this class. That is, if he lands in the right spot.
6. Henry Ruggs III, WR Alabama
Henry Ruggs has been compared to Tyreek Hill more times than I can count. This is a bad comparison (sorry, guys). At just 190 lbs, Ruggs does not have the sturdy build of a guy like Hill, who is essentially a running back when he gets into space. Another comparison that may come up for a speedster like Ruggs is John Ross, a top-ten pick by Cincinnati in 2016. Thankfully, Ruggs is not Ross either, as he is a much more skilled route-runner and a steadier pass-catcher.
I think the best comp for Ruggs would be Will Fuller of the Texans, as both can win with their pure speed and their precise route-running. If Ruggs can avoid the injury bug (the damn metaphorical insect that has plagued Fuller’s career), he will have the chance to be a solid WR2 in fantasy football, regardless of where he gets drafted.
7. Joe Burrow, QB LSU
Assuming you’re in a Super-Flex league, Burrow will likely be a top-5 selection by a QB-needy team. The Heisman winner has been unstoppable for LSU this season, completing 77.9% of his passes for 4,715 passing yards while tallying 51 total touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Burrow, the 23 year-old passer will most likely be suiting up for either the Bengals or Dolphins in 2020, two organizations that are ill-prepared to support a solid fantasy season for a rookie QB. As great as Burrow has been this year, the likelihood that he can carry over this performance into his first year in the NFL is extremely low.
8. Travis Ettiene, RB Clemson
Ettiene has garnered a lot of praise as the lead-back for the Clemson Tigers, as the look to make it to back-to-back National Championship games. While he hasn’t put up the gaudy touchdown numbers he did for last year’s championship team (26 total touchdowns), Ettiene has remained a very effective lead-back.
From a player-profile standpoint, Ettiene reminds me a lot of Chargers RB Melvin Gordon. Both players are well-rounded, with the chance to hit unstoppable hot streaks during games. I think Ettiene is one of the backs with the highest bust potential in this class, however he does have a chance to be selected by a team (like the Chargers, wink wink) who could really maximize his skill-set.
9. Laviska Shenault, WR Colorado
I have seen this guy compared to both Percy Harvin and Julio Jones. The range between those two archetypes in big enough to slap a football stadium between them. Regardless of which player Shenault embodies at the pro-level, the Colorado product will have a chance to be an extremely productive fantasy asset at the NFL level.
A clean route-runner with a thick build, Shenault is a bit like A.J Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, two of the most productive wideouts to be drafted in the last few seasons. While he has struggled to produce in the Buffalos offense, this is no fault of his, as Colorado is simply a program that cannot hang with the rest of the Pac-12 right now. I like Laviska’s floor a lot, and I could see him really developing into a true WR1 in the proper situation.
10. J.K Dobbins, RB Ohio State
Dobbins has been a free elf in 2019, with Mike Weber off to the NFL. The often overlooked Dobbins has been the catalyst for the Buckeyes potent offense, tallying over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 22 total touchdowns. You won’t find his name in the first-round of many mock drafts, but Dobbins is as skilled as any back in this class. He could very well wind-up being the steal of the draft for a team in the second or third round, as his diverse skill-set should set him up for success from the jump.
11. Tee Higgins, WR Clemson
What you see is what you get with Higgins, a 6’4 receiver with decent vertical speed. Higgins has been a decently productive pass-catcher for the Tigers through three seasons, finally eclipsing the 1,000 yard receiving mark this season. When I look at Higgins as a prospect, I see a lot of Martavis Bryant and D.J Chark, two super high-upside fantasy receivers who are not necessarily WR1 material. I would be especially intrigued by Higgins in an actual draft, if he were to land on a team like the Eagles or Ravens, where he might ascend to WR1 status immediately.
12. Cam Akers, RB Florida State
Many draft experts view Akers as a player who could really breakout in the NFL, following several years of tough-sledding behind a miserable offensive line at FSU. While Akers will be a bit of a project to start out, I see a lot of Aaron Jones in him, and we’ve all seen the monster that he has developed into…
13. Devonta Smith, WR Alabama
Smith is the best third-wheel in the nation, as he projects as a very solid NFL slot receiver, thanks to his tremendous hands, top-shelf body control, and underrated agility.
14. Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
It’s unclear where Tagovailoa will be drafted following a scary hip injury. Regardless, his upside is as high as any passer in this class, and he will certainly have a chance to become a very-productive NFL QB, especially if he gets a “redshirt” year to recover and learn, Patrick Mahomes style.
15. Justin Jefferson, WR LSU
Jefferson is not my favorite receiver in this class, however his breakout season has been extremely impressive. It’s unclear whether his breakout can be attributed to his own growth as a player, or whether it occurred thanks to the unreal play of his quarterback, Joe Burrow. Either way, Jefferson’s draft-stock should get him drafted within the first three rounds.
16. Najee Harris, RB Alabama
A power-back with an Alabama pedigree, some team will bring in Harris with the hope that he will become the second coming of Derrick Henry. With his upside as a short-yardage back, Harris could very well be given a red-zone role off the bat.
17. Tyler Johnson, WR Minnesota
Johnson is a crisp route-runner with decent size at 6’2, 200 lbs. He reminds me of a young Keenan Allen, and in the right situation he could prove to be the breakout receiver from this class.
18. Brycen Hopkins, TE Purdue
Hopkins looks like he will be the first tight end off the board in a weak class. Given the struggles faced my most rookie tight ends, Hopkins will likely be a non-factor in fantasy for at least the 2020 season. Even so, he would make for a decent stash down the line.
19. Gabriel Davis, WR UCF
Davis is a really talented receiver prospect, who some believe will be taken in the latter half of round one.
20. Zack Moss, RB Utah
Moss is very Doug Martin-esque, in his build and skill-set. He has been the heart-and-soul of the Utes offense for the past couple of seasons, and it would not surprise me if he was selected ahead of some of the higher-profile RB prospects in this class.
21. Justin Herbert, QB Oregon
Herbert looks like a first-round lock at this point, as the tall, strong-armed passer appears to be an ideal fit for a modern west-coast offense. He may not start right away, but some team will draft him with the intention of making him their franchise passer.
22. Kylin Hill, RB Mississippi State
Another back with the potential to start, Hill is very similar to the previously mentioned Zack Moss, as both are short, stout power runners with decent athletic profiles.
23. Jalen Reagor, WR TCU
Reagor is fast, extraordinarily fast some might say. However, there’s not much else to his game that I see. I think Reagor will have a tough transition to Pro Football, as he needs to refine his pass-catching technique and route-running before he’s ready to dominate the NFL.
24. Eno Benjamin, RB Arizona State
While his 2019 season was extremely forgettable, Benjamin was awesome in 2018, so there’s a decent chance that a team will take their chance on him with an early round pick, potentially paving the path to a starting role down the line.
25. Albert Owuegbunam, TE Missouri
Albert O. has the chance to be one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, if he can put it all together that is. An unproven blocker, there’s work to be done if Owuegbunam really wants to be the next Jimmy Graham.