With startup drafts in full swing and the NFL combine right around the corner, there’s no better time for a 2020 dynasty top 150. Shawn Siegele breaks his rankings into tiers and provides insight into superflex tactics and early rookie picks.
As we head toward the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, I’ll be counting up my dynasty rankings from 1 to 150. Rookies make their debut. As Colm and I discussed on RotoViz Overtime, I love startups that occur before the NFL draft and include rookies in the pool. Featuring the prospects in my current rankings provides a baseline to evaluate moves they make over the summer.
For more in-depth rookie rankings, multiple mock drafts, and new prospect research, be sure to check out the Dynasty Command Center Rookie Guide. Part 1 is out, with Part 2 to follow after the combine and Part 3 after the NFL draft.
To make the rankings more useful, I’m going to approach them from a Superflex perspective, immediately shifting the QB position from irrelevant to pivotal. Tight ends will receive the premium-scoring bump, a tweak that brings stars to the forefront and elevates the most intriguing youngsters.
After averaging 29.4 PPG in his third season, McCaffrey earns a tier all by himself. As the NFL moved into a new era, it seemed likely we would never again see the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, or Priest Holmes. David Johnson’s magical 2016 was the closest we were likely to get. Then this happened.
Top Fantasy RB Performances 2000-2019
We published numerous articles over the last two offseasons suggesting the possibility for a Faulk-like campaign by McCaffrey, but it’s still shocking to see him best that 2000 season by 12 points. The Panthers superstar will now attempt to go back-to-back, repeating the exploits of Faulk (00-01) and Holmes (02-03).
Saquon Barkley, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes
Barkley disappointed as the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, but he reminded everyone of his upside with three big games to close the season.
With 29 NFL games under his belt, Barkley has already crested 20 points on 17 occasions. During the last 20 years, Clinton Portis is the only RB with more total points and more PPG over the first two seasons.
In Superflex formats, the arguments for Jackson and Mahomes are simple. Each has a season at the 30 PPG level and both could anchor the position for 10-plus years. While they may not score well above the average QB starter in every one of those seasons, their profiles offer high floors and make spike years likely. These big years can play a huge role in winning your league, as Jackson’s 2019 best ball win rate shows.
McCaffrey and Barkley may provide more of an advantage in the short term, but it would be surprising if they can match the QBs over the length of your league. To put this in context, over the last decade Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady have combined to score more than 100 points above replacement 23 times in SF formats. Five of their seven absences occurred in the last three seasons when they were as old or older than Jackson and Mahomes will be 10 years from now.
It will be a supremely difficult challenge for the youngsters to match those legends, but they’re off to an encouraging start.
Michael Thomas, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Taylor
In a year where McCaffrey and Jackson stole many of the headlines, Michael Thomas cemented his place in NFL history with an astonishing four-year run to begin his career.
He’s now the standard-bearer in almost every category. He leads in targets over Anquan Boldin (592), receptions over Jarvis Landry (401), and yards over Randy Moss (5,396). Despite a relatively low yards per reception average, he leads Tyreek Hill (202) in fantasy points over expectation due to a 78% catch rate.
Thomas scored like an elite RB in 2019, and he did so despite playing part of the season with Teddy Bridgewater under center. The Game Splits app tells us that Thomas still scored over 22 PPG in those contests. He’ll be a force with any QB, but the impending retirement of Drew Brees is the only thing keeping him out of Tier 2.
Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara are uncontroversial inclusions in this range. The Vikings star broke out with 23.5 PPG through Week 11 before playing less than 50% of the snaps in Weeks 13-15.
Cook could be even more potent with Gary Kubiak taking over the offensive coordinator role.
Curtis Patrick labeled Kamara a priority dynasty trade target and makes such a compelling case that you may be willing to overpay. His first three seasons find him in elite company.
With the safe options out of the way, Wisconsin star Jonathan Taylor should raise eyebrows. Many analysts have him as low as the No. 3 RB in this class alone, and we don’t even have a landing spot. Maybe he gets the Nick Chubb treatment and has to compete with a veteran presence in Year 1 and an elite interloper in Year 2.
Last week we debuted the new RB Prospect Lab, and Taylor easily distanced himself from D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins, earning a 99th percentile projection. Only Barkley and Todd Gurley were at the same level.
The Prospect Lab is a multi-faceted tool that allows us to test various possibilities. You can play with draft position and find out how it affects his projection. This is where he slots if Taylor slides to the Chiefs at No. 32.
The obvious question here: If Taylor projects below Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott, why not simply take them? They ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in Expected Points last season, and both are still in their primes.
As Blair Andrews explains in the Wrong Read: No. 35 – RB Age Curves, Failure Rates, and Breakout Rates, the position does not age well.
We want stud RBs on our team, but we don’t want to be caught holding them when they turn into David Johnson. Owners of Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Le’Veon Bell also suffered big losses last season.
Writing in 2017 before we witnessed these most recent declines, Patrick Kerrane demonstrated how RB trade values start off high in dynasty and then quickly collapse. A key part of building a permanent dynasty is to buy earlier than you feel comfortable and sell earlier than seems intuitive, a topic we’ll discuss in more detail in an upcoming lesson of the Dynasty Trade Workshop.
In the second installment of the Dynasty Top 150 Countup we’ll look at the elite WRs who make up a deep Tier 4. Dynasty’s tight end king will make an appearance, and several young QBs threaten to reach the next level.