Coming into this year’s draft, the general consensus among experts was that the 2020 rookie RB class was deeper and more talented than in previous years. This proved to be right on the money, as six RB’s were taken in the first two rounds of this year’s NFL Draft, compared to just two RB’s last year (Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders). Overall, I think the landing spots were pretty favorable. Some offer the higher long term upside, while some will provide instant fantasy production. It is always a challenge to balance the two in dynasty, and the goal is always to draft a player that can produce in the short term while maintaining the longer term upside of being a franchise player for years to come. Here is my top five favorite rookie RB’s for dynasty leagues.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) – This is a slam dunk, no brainer #1 overall pick here. Not only was Edwards-Helaire the only RB drafted in the first round, but he went to the absolute best landing spot a rookie RB could dream of going. I’m not overly worried about the presence of Damian Williams. For starters, Williams is entering the last year of his contract, is 28 years old. Long term, this is clearly Edwards-Helaire’s job, and in the short term, he will likely make an immediate impact in the passing game for an offense led by Pat Mahomes. His floor will solid regardless, and his upside by year two is potentially the best fantasy RB. Period.
D’Andre Swift (Det) – Swift entered the 2020 NFL Draft as most people’s favorite RB prospect. He projects to be an every down back who can excel in the passing game as a receiver as well as a runner. So from a talent standpoint, he certainly checks the right boxes. His landing spot is underrated in my opinion, because not only will he be the RB of the future for Detroit, I think he will be ‘the guy’ this year. Kerryon Johnson has missed 15 games over his first two seasons, and it’s not like he was lighting the world on fire while he was on the field. The great thing about this situation for Swift, is even if Johnson stays healthy all year (which he probably won’t), Swift will still have an immediate role in the offense. Worse case scenario it will be a 50/50 split. Bottom line, if you believe in Swift, the player, you have to have confidence that he will be handed the keys sooner rather than later and he’ll make the most of those opportunities.
Jonathan Taylor (Ind) – The only reasons I don’t have Taylor number two on this list is because I like Swift’s immediate fantasy outlook slightly more. However, Marlon Mack is entering the last year of his contract, and the Colts have one of the best offensive lines in all of football. The only questions is, how many touches will Taylor get in his rookie season with Mack still on the team. Although there is some uncertainty there, his talent as a pure runner is elite and exceeds Mack’s. Again, in these situations, you have to bet on the talent and trust it will work itself out sooner rather than later.
J.K. Dobbins (Bal) – Dobbins is another RB who finds himself joining a really good team with a starting RB spot solidified. Mark Ingram is no scrub. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2019 with 15 total TD’s. He’s also turning 31 later this year and isn’t as talented as Dobbins. The Ravens offensive identity is centered on running the football and wearing teams out. Lamar Jackson is going to make any RB incredibly productive, so if Ingram can find his way into the end zone 15 times, what is the ceiling for Dobbins?
Cam Akers (LAR) – The Rams were one of my favorite landing spots for a RB heading in this draft. The Todd Gurley era is officially over, and the offense still has a ton of talent. Akers also has a legitimate chance to start right away. Malcom Brown is entering his 7th NFL season, and Henderson probably isn’t an every down back. Love the short term upside of Akers.
There is no reason why all five of these guys shouldn’t be drafted in the first round of dynasty rookie drafts. The landing spots are all solid both for short term success as well as intriguing long term upside. They are all much better prospects than David Montgomery who went in the top five last year in most dynasty rookie drafts to help put into perspective how deep this year’s group is. The offenses they went to are all significantly better and they are all more talented. If you have a need at the RB position, and your league allows trades, this would be a good year to trade into or trade for an additional first round pick.