By: Henry John @HankTimeSports
The NFL Draft provides newfound hope to all fans and franchises that winning days are ahead in the future. From a Fantasy Football standpoint, the draft welcomes in the newest crop of potential stars. When looking for players who will step in and have an immediate Fantasy impact their rookie season, the list of first-round draftees is usually a good place to start. Read on for a breakdown and early Fantasy outlook for each wide receiver taken in the opening round.
For a Fantasy outlook on all first round QBs and RBs, click here!
Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders took a page out of the division rival Kansas City Chiefs’ playbook here. Not a single wide receiver was taken ahead of the Raiders’ pick at No. 12, meaning they had their choice from one of the deepest WR classes in memory. Henry Ruggs’ speed is the primary reason a lot of scouts felt that he could have the most upside of any receiver in the draft. His 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine was clocked at a blistering 4.27 seconds.
With the Raiders, Ruggs should immediately become quarterback Derek Carr’s primary target at the wide receiver position. Ruggs lined up primarily in the slot at Alabama, although the Raiders might prefer to line him up opposite fellow speedster Tyrell Williams out wide with Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller continuing to work over the middle. Regardless, expect Ruggs to have a Fantasy Football-relevant role out of the gate as a rookie in 2020.
John Elway, Vic Fangio, and Broncos fans everywhere hope to see plenty of the Drew Lock-to-Jerry Jeudy connection in the coming years. Jeudy was the clear WR1 at Alabama in terms of statistics. He is noted for being an exceptional route runner and perhaps the best all-around wideout in the deep 2020 class.
Jeudy will join third-year pro Courtland Sutton atop the Denver receiving chart. The Broncos offense is expected to be heavily run through the backfield tandem of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. But if the team is to take the next step, the tremendous potential that Lock showed down the stretch of last season will need to carryover. The addition of Jeudy will only help the cause. Jeudy is poised to have immediate value in 2020 when he will finish as either the Fantasy WR1 or 2 on the Broncos. He also offers a stable floor for dynasty owners looking beyond his rookie campaign.
The Cowboys had the option to address numerous needs on the offensive line and defensive side of the ball with their selection at No. 17. But with Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb still available for the taking, Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy decided to pounce. Lamb had a stellar collegiate career as a Sooner and many believed he was the top wideout in the draft class. He possesses incredible after-the-catch playmaking ability.
Lamb joins a crowded receiving corps in Dallas that already features Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Throw in running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Blake Jarwin, and QB Dak Prescott has more than enough weapons in his arsenal. Lamb is likely to slot in as the WR3 at least early on in his rookie season, filling the slot role that was vacated by the offseason departure of Randall Cobb. His talent level and landing spot in Dallas speak to tremendous long-term Fantasy value. We just may have to wait beyond 2020 to really see it, given the number of mouths to feed in the Cowboys’ offense.
Many were a bit surprised when the Eagles chose the 5’11” Jalen Reagor to be their lead wideout for the foreseeable future over other names that were still on the board. Again, we see the “Tyreek Hill Effect” at work. Reagor cruised to a 4.47-second 40-yard dash time at the combine and easily topped that with a 4.22 at his virtual pro day. He had over 2200 yards receiving over the course of his collegiate career at TCU and caught 22 touchdown passes.
If DeSean Jackson manages to return healthy from the abdominal injuries that plagued him last season, he and Reagor would form one of the NFL’s fastest WR tandems. Reagor appears poised to be one of QB Carson Wentz’s top weapons immediately. Alshon Jeffery is still on the roster for now, but that could change if Philadelphia selects another receiver in the draft. The heavy involvement of tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert must be considered when projecting the Fantasy value of Eagles’ receivers, but Reagor should still have his opportunities as a rookie and certainly in the years to come.
Most mocks saw Justin Jefferson assigned to the Eagles at No. 21. But when Philly opted for Reagor, the Vikings officially closed the book on the Stefon Diggs era when they selected Jefferson with the very first round pick that they received for him in the trade with the Buffalo Bills. Which side of the deal proves to be the winner remains to be seen. In Jefferson, the Vikings are getting a talented playmaker with a tremendous catch radius.
Jefferson will immediately be the WR2 in Minnesota behind veteran Adam Thielen and has a strong Fantasy outlook for 2020. From a scheme standpoint, it will be interesting to see what Mike Zimmer and his staff come up with as Thielen and Jefferson have both largely been slot receivers. Tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. will also figure into the Vikings aerial attack, and either Tajae Sharper or Olabisi Johnson will likely be the team’s third option at receiver. Long-term, Jefferson should thrive as a Fantasy wideout with Kirk Cousins as his quarterback. If/when he eventually takes over the WR1 role from Thielen, look out!
After opting to add beef to their defensive line by taking Javon Kinlaw at No. 14 overall, the 49ers traded up to ensure that their need at the receiver position was addressed in round one. They did so by selecting Brandon Aiyuk, marking the second year in a row that Arizona State had a receiver drafted in the first round, after N’Keal Harry in 2019. Aiyuk impressed in his final college season to the tune of nearly 1200 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns.
Aiyuk is poised to have solid Fantasy value out of the gate as a rookie. Other than Deebo Samuel, the Niners’ receiver corps is full of question marks following the offseason departure of Emmanuel Sanders. Jalen Hurd could make an impact after missing his entire rookie season to injury and Kendrick Bourne carved out a fine role as a red zone target for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, tight end George Kittle will be a major contributor as well. Aiyuk’s long-term Fantasy potential could be one of great intrigue if he and Garoppolo are able to build a sound connection.