Top Five Rookie Difference-Makers in 2020

Hunter Skoczylas @HunterSkoczylas

With the 2020 season making its way around the corner in September, there will be more names added to the pool in your fantasy football drafts. Some new faces might not make a difference right off the bat given the team they’re drafted to, but there will undoubtedly be some true difference-makers that will help your fantasy football team win and ultimately make the playoffs in 2020.

Here are the top five rookies in 2020 that will make the difference for your fantasy team—let’s take a look.

Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

The first rookie and most obvious difference maker is Joe Burrow out of LSU. The 2020 Heisman winner and single-season touchdown record holder with 60 touchdowns will surely add that winning mentality to an NFL team lacking wins the past few seasons. Regardless of the team he’s drafted to; Burrow will make a difference.

The Cincinnati Bengals will likely take Joe Burrow with the first pick in the 2020 draft in April. Having Andy Dalton at quarterback the last few seasons hasn’t done the job, and with second-year coach, Zac Taylor, the Bengals are looking for their guy. With Joe Mixon in the backfield and wideouts John Ross and AJ Green—recently franchise-tagged—Burrow could do some damage against opposing defenses in 2020.

This upcoming draft isn’t heavy at the quarterback position as there are only a few solid first-round guys who could make differences for their respective teams, and it is clear Joe Burrow is the best of the best. He tore apart defenses his senior year with the LSU Tigers resulting in breaking four records and, of course, winning the Heisman, so expect him to have a pretty stellar rookie season.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

The second rookie difference-maker for the upcoming season is Tua Tagovailoa. Going down mid-season in 2019 with a hip injury resulting in surgery had the football world stop for a second and breathe. Tagovailoa was a top prospect for the upcoming draft, and there are many NFL teams that would love to have his style of play at their starting quarterback position.

Luckily, Tua Tagovailoa had surgery immediately after injuring his hip and made an amazing recovery, resulting in the clearance to begin participating in combine workouts. This injury won’t damage his value in the draft too much as he’s still projected to be the second quarterback taken in the draft. It’s a guessing game as to what jersey he will be wearing in his first NFL season.

There are a few teams in dire need of a quarterback, including the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, and arguably the Washington Redskins. Regardless of the jersey he’s wearing in 2020, Tagovailoa will make a difference considering the amount of intensity and big plays he brings to the field each time he steps onto it. His injury is still a liability somewhat because he could reinjure it, and it is possible he doesn’t have the same explosiveness as before. But there will NFL teams in need of a solid QB1 and that are willing to still take the risk.

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma product at 6’2 and one number wide receiver prospect for the 2020 draft will most certainly be a difference-maker on the team that drafts him. Lamb brings speed and agility to the field, and you never know for sure if he will take it the distance for the touchdown. He also has incredible route running already, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear the name CeeDee Lamb a lot over the upcoming years.

Hauling in 14 receiving touchdowns on an astounding 21.4 average yards per catch, CeeDee Lamb is going to make some NFL corners look silly next season. Lamb always seems to be open due to his breakout ability, so it is likely whatever team he goes to he will be the number one receiver and will be relied on heavily. The Sooners produce amazing talent each draft, and Lamb is arguably the best talent we’ll see at the wide receiver position this draft.

There are numerous teams in need of a true wide receiver like the Las Vegas Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets. CeeDee Lamb will almost certainly be the first wide receiver off the board, so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on him in your fantasy draft next season. With some teams struggling at the quarterback position, Lamb’s value could fall a little bit if he doesn’t have a QB that gets the job done, but he will excel in the NFL. He’s 6’2 and 191 pounds with breakout speed, something many NFL teams will be looking for.

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Another talented wide receiver out of Alabama is Jerry Jeudy. Alabama is notorious for producing pure talent each and every NFL draft. Jeudy adds explosiveness and agility to the field, and like CeeDee Lamb, he will be a problem for NFL corners to cover. Running a 4.45 in the forty -yard dash at this year’s combine will attract teams for sure.

However, it isn’t all about speed with Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy is arguably the most explosive player in the entire draft. You never know when he’s going to go down due to his ability to slip underneath defenders and break away from tackles. Whatever NFL team makes the pick for Jeudy will be rewarded next season with exciting and fun plays, never knowing if the play’s over.

Jerry Jeudy will likely end up on the Las Vegas Raiders or Denver Broncos because those teams are notorious for taking wide receivers in drafts and have decent picks in the first round this year, but he will excel in both offenses. He always seems to be open, and that could be a safe bet for quarterbacks Derek Carr and Drew Lock for the next season, two QBs who had lackluster seasons in 2019. Jeudy will be a clear number one receiver wherever he ends up.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Johnathan Taylor is a force of nature, a quality many teams in need of a strong running back are looking for to add some beef to their offensive game. Taylor ran an amazing 4.39 at 226 pounds, which is unheard of these days in the NFL combine. He could add that one-two punch to a team or could be the center of attention on another.

There aren’t many running backs that will go in the first round this draft, but it is inevitable that Taylor will be one of them. Running for over 2000 yards in back to back seasons and a total of 37 rushing touchdowns, Taylor has proven that he can be the workhorse of whatever team decides to give him a chance. In his 2019 season, he became an all-around back as he caught five receiving touchdowns on an average of 9.7 per catch. Teams looking for a running back that their quarterback can bail on when plays break down will certainly call his name for the upcoming draft.

It is quite unknown what team will go for Taylor as he could be the number one option somewhere else, but he could also be the second option on some teams. However, regardless of where he ends up his rookie season, you can take him in your fantasy drafts due to his ability to running, catching, and blocking ability. Taylor is a big boy at 226 pounds but also has blazing speed for his size, which could be an issue for opposing defenses.


Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Although it’s unlikely Hurts goes in the first round, he still could be a huge difference-maker for teams needing a quarterback. Jalen Hurts ran a 4.59 in the forty-yard dash, which is pretty impressive for his position. He still has some areas to work on like his long ball and overall accuracy, but he adds another element: scrambling.

We all saw what last year’s NFL MVP Lamar Jackson did when he wasn’t throwing the ball, and with drafting Hurts, it could be a similar situation. Hurts is not nearly as athletic and speedy as Jackson, but having a QB that can tuck the ball and run when the pocket gets flooded can be huge. He has the ability to extend plays and drives, something Lamar Jackson was notorious for last season.

As for the fantasy perspective, it’s unclear with Jalen Hurts. He could be drafted to a team in dire need of a quarterback where he immediately starts, or there’s the possibility he’s a backup plan for now. If teams like the Chargers or even Redskins are looking for a different style quarterback than traditionally, Hurts could get his chance to prove himself. He adds that versatility and winner’s mentality and that could pay off in the long run. Possibly the next Lamar? Vick?






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