Hello and welcome to the second installment of my annual Top 100 Rookies series! If you’re new to the series, every year I put together 100 rookies entering the NFL Draft and rank them based on the impact I believe they’ll have for fantasy football purposes (of course). So no, this is not just another “big board” or “where they’ll go in the real NFL Draft” conversation. This is specifically designed for you to use as a data point in building your own rookie rankings for upcoming dynasty league rookie drafts. And of course, it’s here to help you learn a few fun things to make you sound smart among your friends as the NFL Combine and Draft are approaching.
And yes, the NFL Combine results will certainly change these rankings a bit. But the goal here is establish a baseline understanding of where these players should rank given what we know now and how they can help themselves in the coming weeks and months to help their draft and fantasy football stock.
I used to keep things limited to offensive players, but for those of you who are super nerds like me having some individual defensive players (IDPs) included definitely helps for your upcoming drafts too.
Some things to note as you read:
- The position listed is where I believe they will play most frequently
- “EDGE” players are typically 3-4 outside linebackers or pass rushing 4-3 defensive ends
- “DL” are typically DTs and DEs that will work exclusively between the 0 and 5 techniques on the defensive line
- “LB” are the playmaking off-the-ball linebackers
- Scoring format assumed is 1 QB, PPR and a balance between tackle heavy and big play (for the IDPs)
If you missed the players ranked No. 1 to 20, No. 21 to 40, No. 41 to 60, or No. 81 to No. 100, you can find them by clicking here.
If you have any questions or comments on these ranks find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM! But without further ado, here are the players currently ranked No. 61 to No. 80 in the 2020 Top 100 Rookies series!
80. Kyle Dugger, S Lenoir-Rhyne
Dugger’s track to the NFL is unusual, but he may end up being a star when it’s all said and done. He played his entire career in Division II football. He took two redshirt seasons, one as a true freshman, and one for medical reasons as a sophomore. But when he was completely healthy and on the field, Dugger dominated, earning just about every award possible. Dugger was awarded South Atlantic Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year. He was named First Team All SAC three years in a row. On top of that, he earned the Cliff Harris Award for being the best defensive player in Division II in 2019 despite only playing in seven games last fall. If he shows adequate speed (sub-4.6) and agility, this Division II prodigy may leap up draft boards.
79. Jeffrey Okudah, CB Ohio State
Okudah is my (and everyone else’s) highest-rated cornerback this season for both real and fantasy football. As I talked about last October in my Devy Weekly series, Okudah has truly elite athleticism. He was running a 4.49 forty, jumping 42 inches in the vert, and a posting a 4.03 in the short shuttle in high school. That made him the most athletic defensive back in his entire recruiting class.
He’ll wow at the combine, be the first corner off the NFL Draft board, and boasts the cover skills to succeed in any scheme right away. Plus, given that his initial position was safety as a recruit, he could line up there and produce as a tackler if needed later in his career.
78. Terrell Lewis, EDGE Boise State
This class has several “one year wonder” edge rushers, but Terrell Lewis might be the most fun of the bunch. Yes, he just had his first and only productive season. Yes, he still only had six sacks. And yes, like I mentioned in the last segment of this series, his own pass-rushing teammate Anfernee Jennings outproduced him. But he’s going to be drafted early just due to his physical traits. He has an alleged 7-foot wingspan, and it shows on tape. He’ll also likely kill it in on-field drills and his jumps at the combine. If Lewis performs like his recruiting and athletic pedigree, he may push for first-round capital.
77. Anthony McFarland, RB Maryland
No, I’m not talking about the current color analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. This Anthony McFarland is a young, fun, incredibly fast running back just coming out of Maryland.
McFarland will likely run one of the fastest forty-yard-dash times among all running backs at the combine. And he should destroy the agility drills as well. If he tests well enough, that might boost his draft stock a bit. However, his lack of receiving production in college may be enough to keep him stuck somewhere in the middle of Day 3 on draft day. He maxed out at 17 receptions in a single season. But there’s still hope. Hit rates for early to mid Day 3 backs aren’t good, but at least he has a few promising comps when we use our RotoViz Box Score Scout:
If McFarland weighs in just a bit higher than he was listed, he’ll profile almost exactly like Devonta Freeman. That’s not a bad “best case” comparison to have.
76. Michael Warren, RB Cincinnati
Cincinnati is becoming one of the best college football programs in the nation despite not being in a “Power Five” conference. And if Michael Warren is a hint at what’s to come for playmaking Bearcats, we will see some fun players come out of there soon. Warren kicked off his college career slowly, having to prove himself to new coach Luke Fickell. But by Year 2 he was in total control of the Cincinnati backfield.
Warren just missed the 100 scrimmage yards per game threshold we like to see here at RotoViz thanks to his slow start, but he certainly showed he could catch:
He’s going to need to see some draft capital before I bump him any higher. But if he posts even average athleticism at the combine, some coach will like his size, balanced skill set, and the fact that he only had one career fumble on 610 touches.
75. Devin Duvernay, WR Texas
Duvernay’s has one of the strangest production resumes in recent memory:
He kicked things off just missing a 20% Dominator Rating as a true freshman. But then in coach Tom Herman’s first year at Texas Duvernay was completely benched for most of the year. It took Duvernay until his final season, but last fall he averaged more than eight catches per game and locked in a 32% Dominator Rating.
Due to that strange up and down struggle, his pro comps are pretty gross. The former track star will likely need to post top-end speed and agility to even get close to Day 2 draft consideration. But if he does, then a career like Golden Tate isn’t completely out of the question.
74. Ashtyn Davis, S California
Many draft analysts have Ashtyn Davis ranked highly. Why? He has decent coverage skills thanks to some experience at corner. He’s got decent range thanks to his college track speed (made it to nationals for hurdles). But he’s still super raw, which is understandable since he didn’t even play football as a true freshman California. Unless he shows elite speed and agility at the combine expect him to slide in the draft.
73. Zach Baun, LB Wisconsin
Thanks to his diverse skill set, Baun is a tough projection as to where he’ll spend most of his time lining up as a pro. He spent a good amount of time coming off the edge at Wisconsin and actually sacked the quarterback 12.5 times in 2019. But due to his size, Baun likely plays a more “off the ball” type role. In fact, the only reason he isn’t ranked higher is that he likely gets jammed into a “Sam” linebacker role.
If you’ve played IDP fantasy for very long, you’ll know that Sam backers often provide a decent tackle floor, but not the highest snap count or playmaking stats. In 3-3-5 or 4-3-4 base defenses, Sam backers are usually the first ones off the field in passing situations, and are typically not the tackle heaviest position. Baun’s a top talent in this class, but his rank will only rise if his projected role clearly changes.
72. Evan Weaver, LB California
The story is simple with Evan Weaver. As a junior, he wrapped up 155 total tackles, tied for first in the nation. And in his final season he totaled 181 tackles, 32 more than anyone else in Division I! Since 2005, Luke Kuechly is the only college linebacker with more tackles in a two-year span. The issue with Weaver will most definitely his coverage skills against the pass. If he has a good combine he could surprise us with some draft capital, a la Jahlani Tavai last season and Darius Leonard before that.
71. Justin Madubuike, DL Texas A&M
Madubuike’s mobility at 300 pounds is phenomenal. His ability to force tackles for loss and push any and all offensive lineman into the backfield led to two consecutive seasons with over 10 tackles for loss. However, Madubuike’s sacks were usually significantly impacted by pass coverage more than his ability to get there quickly. I expect his stock to rise after the NFL Combine. His flexiblity and size-adjusted speed could push him up a tier for defensive linemen.
70. DeeJay Dallas, RB Miami
Cam Akers is not the only running back in this class with some wildcat quarterback experience. DeeJay Dallas was the ultimate “do it all” football recruit coming into college. He started out playing wide receiver and defensive back, but ended up amassing over 2,200 rushing and 1,500 passing yards in his final two high school seasons.
At Miami, they tried to slot him in at receiver, but thanks to backfield injuries, Dallas was able to show his elite running ability early on and he was shifted to full-time back. When he took Miami’s lead back role last fall he showed to be the second most efficient back in the ACC behind only Travis Etienne, averaging nearly 7.0 yards per touch. Yes, he probably should have stayed one more year to pad his lackluster production profile. Yes, his receiving profile is limited in college. But given his experience playing receiver, I’m not too worried about his abilities there. He’ll need to kill the combine to enter any Day 2 draft discussions, but he has one of the most enjoyable sets of skills to watch in this entire draft class.
69. Jordan Love, QB Utah State
Heading into last fall, most NFL Draft nerds were excited about Jordan Love. He led a complete Utah State team to an 11-2 finish and a dominant bowl victory. He was looking like a surefire first-round pick. And then the 2019 season happened.
Without his favorite receivers and running backs to rely on, Love struggled hard. He posted his worst adjusted yards per attempt, INT%, TD%, and virtually every other relevant statistic. Love should still be drafted early, but to say he’s this year’s Daniel Jones or Josh Allen would be incredibly kind.
68. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan
Donovan Peoples-Jones was supposed to do so much more in college. He was a five-star recruit. He ran a 4.45 forty and jumped nearly 40 inches in the vertical in high school. It looked like he could dominate defensive backs. But all he could muster was a 27% peak Dominator Rating inflated by some touchdowns. And regardless of his pedigree, even if he sees Day 2 capital his pro comps are not promising. One of his best comps is actually Justin Hunter. Both were high pedigree recruits with mediocre production profiles. Hunter wowed at the combine, and Peoples-Jones should too. But don’t let that fool you into reaching for the upside.
67. Van Jefferson, WR Florida
Every year a few receivers get overly pumped up by the Senior Bowl. Van Jefferson was “that guy” this year. Jefferson never broke out at any point in college. He was never even really the WR1 on his own team outside of a handful of games for Florida. And the comps are absolutely atrocious for Jefferson’s profile even if we overestimate his draft capital:
However, there is some room for hope with Jefferson. He does run routes incredibly well. His dad is a former NFL wide receiver, now the receivers coach for the Jets. And yes, he was buried behind A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf for most of his college career. There is certainly context behind his poor production. But unless something drastic changes and he’s selected early in April, Jefferson should not be an early rookie pick, despite what heavy film grinders might suggest.
66. Patrick Taylor Jr., RB Memphis
2019 was supposed to be Taylor’s year. He was coming off an 18-touchdown, 1,300-yard season in 2018, and was finally going to feature for Memphis. But then he got injured to start the year and his hype train was derailed.
Listed at 6 feet 3 inches, 223 pounds, Taylor has a feature back build and decent pass-catching ability. He and teammate Antonio Gibson should both impress with their speed and burst at the NFL combine. Watch for Taylor’s stock to skyrocket in the coming weeks as the masses realize that he exists.
65. Colby Parkinson, TE Stanford
6-foot-7-inch tight ends don’t have an extensive record of production outside of Jimmy Graham. And really, if you take out Parkinson’s six-catch, 166-yard, four-touchdown performance against a bad Oregon State defense in 2018, his production profile truly has some holes. But his 2019 showed he could be a reliable chain moving asset. Parkinson caught at least four passes in 8 of his 12 games and showed excellent ball skills. He’s more of a projection than the other two tight ends in this tier, but if he shows some speed at the combine, he’s an intriguing prospect.
64. Jared Pinkney, TE Vanderbilt
Pinkney was one of a few players that had their careers nearly ruined by the inept Vanderbilt offense in 2019. Despite his 50-catch, 26% receiving dominator 2018 campaign, the Commodores forgot to throw his way last season. Playing at 6 feet 4 inches and 260 pounds, Pinkney moves fluidly for his size, blocks well, and should be drafted early. Let’s hope his final season of only 20 catches doesn’t knock his draft stock down too far. Pinkney has the skills to be TE1 in a class lacking any elite options.
63. Harrison Bryant, TE FAU
It’s funny what happens to a tight end’s stock when he posts a 1,000-yard season and wins the Mackey Award for best tight end in college football.
Bryant was a relative unknown to many prior to 2019, but he had already posted two seasons with a 26% Dominator Rating or better. And just look at these comps!
There’s essentially only one complete miss in the bunch. And there’s certainly some fun names there with George Kittle, Evan Engram, and Jonnu Smith in the mix.
My only concern with Bryant is his athleticism. His 2019 season showed that he could win physically, but a nice Combine would put a bow on an otherwise spectacular profile.
62. Jacob Eason, QB Washington
As I discussed in detail in my Devy Weekly series last fall, Jacob Eason went through the gauntlet in college to get to where he is now. A former five-star stud recruit, Eason lost his starting job at Georgia, transferred, and had to wait a year to put together any real production. But once he finally took the helm at Washington he showed why he was once a highly coveted recruit. Nothing about Eason is “elite” on paper, which is why he remains QB6 in my ranks this year. However, he did post above-average adjusted production numbers in virtually every category this year at Washington. That plus his arm strength will see him drafted day two.
61. Jake Fromm, QB Georgia
And last, but not least, we have the quarterback that stole Jacob Eason’s job from him in 2017. Just like Eason, nothing about his profile screams “elite” and there are questions about his deep accuracy. But Fromm posted a much better touchdown and interception percentages. And of course, he actually won some meaningful games (almost the national championship). Fromm is likely a Derek Carr-like prospect who could start early if called upon, but one who will never be an elite QB1 for you.
And that’s all for now! Check out players ranked No. 81 to 100 here! And look for the next installment of the Top 100 Rookies Series here soon! Find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM if you have any questions. And keep living that Dynasty Life!