With the 2019 fantasy football campaign still fresh in everyone's mind, our experts look ahead to what they're excited about for next season.
An immediate impact rookie class
The draft class of 2020 is going to be exceptionally rich at the skill spots — perhaps historically so. Given the depth and quality at running back and receiver among the incoming rookies, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to assume we'll be drafting two or three (or four) first-year players among the overall top-50. If, for example, a back like Georgia's D'Andre Swift were to end up in Kansas City, we could easily build a case for him as a late first-round fantasy pick. And Miami is basically a lock to draft a rookie runner, then feed him 350 touches. We can also expect elite receivers like CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins and Jerry Jeudy to head to spots like Green Bay, Arizona or Philly.
So yeah, above all else, I'm anxious to see where these rookies land. The 2020 class is loaded. —Andy Behrens
Betting on a Mecole Hardman breakout
Selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, Hardman served as potential insurance for Tyreek Hill, whose future with the Chiefs appeared unsure. While Hill ultimately joined the squad (and averaged nearly 5 catches and 72 yards per contest over the regular season), Hardman flashed in Hill’s stead as well as when both speedsters were on the field.
Despite finishing fifth in team targets (46) the Georgia product tied Hill for the most scores with seven TDs (over 29 catches). His explosiveness and versatility on special teams provide Hardman with a ceiling that has elicited praise from Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. The 21-year-old is still a work in progress and needs to improve his route running as well as his blocking technique. But with Sammy Watkins likely to be gone next season and Demarcus Robinson being wholly beatable, Hardman has a shot at No. 2 duties in one of the NFL’s most electric offenses. I’ll gleefully bet on his breakout (over, for example, Will Fuller ever staying healthy) in the back half of 2020 fantasy drafts. — Liz Loza
Drafting Kenyan Drake too early
Miami’s regime soured on Drake despite a bunch of evidence that suggested he was a future star (his 4.29 YPC after contact in 2017 marked the highest ever recorded at the time). After getting traded to Arizona, he went off for eight games to end the year, producing a season’s pace of 1,628 yards with 16 touchdowns while learning a new system.
Meanwhile, David Johnson finished last among 50 qualified running backs in elusive rating, so this is assuming the Cardinals move on from DJ (who now owns the record for most consecutive years busting with a first-round ADP) and re-sign Drake during the offseason. It’s a young offense that should be much better in Year 2 of Kliff Kingsbury’s system with a budding star at quarterback, which brings a ton of upside for a feature back in Arizona. Drake has burned fantasy managers before so some will be hesitant to be aggressive, but I’ll be tempted to make him a first-round fantasy pick in 2020. — Dalton Del Don
How high is too high for A.J. Brown?
Breakout receivers often become the most aggressively priced players in fantasy football. When players are expected to make the leap, drafters fall all over each other to become first in line. After all, Chris Godwin scratched his way into being a near late third-round pick by the time all was said and done in last year’s fantasy draft season. He wasn’t the first, he won’t be the last.
With that in mind, I’m endlessly excited for A.J. Brown’s 2020 fantasy prospects. After a dynamic rookie campaign where he averaged 20 yards per catch and scored eight times, the limits seem to be endless. We are all hyped for it, especially with Ryan Tannehill all but a lock to be back, but how high is too high to pay for the rights to find out how good Brown will be? With everything we know about these breakout wideouts, you better be ready to drop a third-round pick on Brown. He has more of a full resume with glimpses of stardom than even Godwin did when he got shot up the ranks last year. — Matt Harmon
Tyler Higbee owns Hollywood
The Rams season had a lot of stops and starts to it. Jared Goff had wonky splits. Todd Gurley fell into the end zone a bunch, but never looked good doing it (Robert Woods had the exact opposite season, lots of yards, rarely spiking). Brandin Cooks may have retired, just forgot to file the paperwork.
And then there’s Tyler Higbee, the LA hero fantasy needs. Higbee exploded for 43 catches and 522 yards over the last five weeks, including four 100-yard games in a row. That four game, 100-yard club is an exclusive group; among tight ends, Higbee joins Tony Gonzalez, Travis Kelce, and (the young) Jimmy Graham. I generally like to let a draft come to me, but I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t go after Higbee aggressively next year. —Scott Pianowski