The NFL Draft came and went and as expected, featured a run on receivers. There were 13 receivers taken in the first two rounds while 37 were selected in total. Needless to say, there will be several rookie receivers making immediate fantasy contributions.
Several teams went out and sought to improve their passing attack in this historic draft. The Cowboys surprised many and selected Ceedee Lamb despite having two 1,000 yard receivers last year. The pick was questionable, with Dallas needing a lot of help on defense. Rumors later came out that the team was planning to take LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson and had no plans to select a receiver. But it seems the opportunity to steal Lamb was too good not to pass up. Some believe that the pick was made to keep Lamb from possibly slipping even further to the Eagles at 21.
RELATED: Analyzing the Top 10 Receivers available in the 2020 NFL Draft
A factor to watch with these incoming rookies will be the effect of the pandemic. Since the virus is preventing teams from holding OTA’s and rookie camps, rookies may have a harder time adapting to the NFL. They’ll be unable to practice and learn the new system, at least not like they would be able to under normal circumstances. This could mean a loss of snaps to guys already adapted to the system.
As stated before, this is a historically deep draft class for the wide receiver position. There will be several members of this class starting in 12-man fantasy leagues immediately and even more as the season progresses. Of the 13 selected in the first two rounds, it’s likely 8 or 9 will be starting for their respective team’s come Week 1.
Anyways, you’re here for the guys to stash on the bench to help you make the playoffs next November. Here are six rookie wide receivers who could make an immediate fantasy impact in 2020.
Henry Ruggs III- Las Vegas Raiders
Ruggs was the first receiver taken off the board by the Raiders with the 12th selection. The Alabama speedster has impressive raw talent, to say the least. He ran the fastest 40 at the combine, finishing with a 4.27. Some even thought he could break the previous record set by Cincinnati’s John Ross.
There’s no surprise that Jon Gruden was eager to get someone with that potential in the silver and black. A crazy stat about Ruggs is that he scored a touchdown on one of every four catches while at Alabama.
With a clear path to playing time in Oakland, expect Ruggs to have immediate fantasy value. There is potential that he could instantly become the team’s big play receiver and there is no established star receiver on the team. Tyrell Williams had a nice start to 2019 but then tapered off following a week 8 foot injury that caused him to miss two games. Second year man Hunter Renfrow is currently positioned as the team’s slot receiver but outside that, Ruggs only faces competition from Zay Jones and Nelson Agholar.
No matter what happens with the QB situation in Oakland, don’t expect Henry Ruggs to stay on the board for long.
Jerry Jeudy- Denver Broncos
The Broncos had a stellar draft. They used their first two picks on receivers in Jerry Jeudy and Penn State speedster KJ Hamler to add to Drew Lock’s arsenal. Jeudy is a solid all-around receiver with great hands and footwork. Coming from a program like Alabama, it’ll be difficult to keep up with the legacy. Jeudy was the top receiver for Alabama last season, hauling in 77 catches for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s a solid target for keeper leagues and those stashing bench guys in the later rounds.
As far as instant fantasy impact goes, there is a clear path to catches for Jerry Jeudy. He will add depth to the Broncos passing game and could see more receptions while complimenting Courtland Sutton’s deep threat. The fantasy floor is high for Jerry Jeudy, at least as far as rookies go.
Justin Jefferson- Minnesota Vikings
It shocked many Eagles fans when the team passed on Jefferson for Jalen Reagor. As time has progressed, however, the logic behind the pick has become clear. Jefferson is a slot receiver and the team was in desperate need of receivers who can play the outside. They already use tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert heavily in the slot.
With that said, Jefferson was a solid pick for the Vikings, who needed help at wide receiver after trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills in March. The LSU product will start immediately and will likely be one of the first rookies off the board in many leagues. Jefferson was the top receiver for the #1 offense in college football in 2019. He led the NCAA in receptions with 111 to go along with 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.
Tee Higgins- Cincinnati Bengals
Higgins was the first player off the board in the second round and should be a top target for Joe Burrow. He will join a Bengals receiver corps that includes A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. Burrow allegedly lobbied the Bengals front office to keep Green.
It’s tough to say how Higgins will fit in this offense. He’ll be the WR3 behind Green and Tyler Boyd but both have dealt with injuries throughout their careers, especially Green. Green missed the entire 2019 season due to a nagging ankle injury. It’ll be interesting to see how Zac Taylor uses Higgins but Cincinnati will certainly throw the ball heavily with Burrow now leading the franchise.
It’s more of a wait and see approach with Higgins, but the potential for 2020 fantasy relevance is there.
Michael Pittman Jr.- Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were thin at wide receiver and needed support for new QB Phillip Rivers. They certainly addressed this by using both of their second round picks to get weapons for Rivers in Pittman Jr. and RB Jonathon Taylor from Wisconsin.
Pittman Jr. is a tall wideout at 6’4″ with decent speed at 4.5 forty. His father – Michael Pittman Sr. – was a longtime NFL runningback, primarily with the Buccaneers. Like his father, Pittman projects to be a bruiser for his position.
Pittman Jr. is certain to start alongside burners T.Y Hilton and Parris Campbell. He could see extra targets if and when Hilton misses any games. Pittman had a solid senior season at USC, finishing with 101 catches for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The biggest play with Pittman will be his red-zone ability. Pittman will be the big man of this receiver corps and the potential for red-zone looks is there. If Phillip Rivers starts looking to Pittman in the red-zone with regularity, the USC product could be one of the most productive rookies in fantasy.
Denzel Mims- New York Jets
Mims will help fill the role of Robby Anderson, who left to reunite with his college coach Matt Rhule in Carolina. The Jets quietly had a solid draft overall, adding Mims as well as 6’7″, 365 pound OT Mekhi Becton in the first round. Using a late second round pick on Mims was a steal, considering many mocks at one point had Mims going first round. This year’s draft class is so deep at WR that the Baylor product cold possess first round talent.
Mims had a solid year for the Bears in 2019 finishing with 66 catches for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was a three-year starter at Baylor and can immediately contribute.
For the Jets, this is much needed. They need weapons to see what they have in Sam Darnold and Mims should slide right into this offense. Given injury woes and overall lack of production at the position in recent years for the Jets, Mims has a clear path to playing time.
These guys have a chance to make a name for themselves in their first year but have some setbacks due to lack of experience in college or a crowded depth chart:
Ceedee Lamb- Dallas Cowboys
Jalen Reagor- Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Aiyuk- San Francisco 49ers
Laviska Shenault Jr.- Jacksonville Jaguars
KJ Hamler- Denver Broncos
Chase Claypool- Pittsbrugh Steelers
Van Jefferson- Los Angeles Rams
Lynn Bowden Jr.- Las Vegas Raiders