NFL
July 16, 2020
BY Calvin McAlee

9 NFL Rookies to Avoid in Fantasy Football Drafts

In order to win your fantasy football league, you need to find those sleepers and rookies who are going to have big seasons. While finding those future fantasy football league-winners is a great feeling, investing in young players who turn out to be busts is equally frustrating.

One mistake people make when drafting rookies is assuming that they will instantly carry over their success from the college game to the NFL. While some rookies do break out in their first season, the majority of them take time to transition to the speed and intricacies of the pro game. 

This year, drafting rookies is even more of a crapshoot because of the lack of OTAs, a modified training camp and potentially no preseason. 

This list features highly coveted rookies who you should be wary of drafting in your fantasy drafts. These first-year players might seem like incredible values in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft but these big-named rookies are likely to fall flat in their first NFL season and cost you a pick that could have gotten you a much better player.

Wait and see with these nine players before wasting a valuable draft pick on them. 

READ: Lines' 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the fifth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Many think he is the future of the Dolphins but they may be jumping the gun just a little early. First off, Tagovailoa is still behind the Bearded Wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick. Second off, he has an injury history that we still probably haven’t even heard the whole story on. 

Injuries and Fitzmagic aside, there are just too many issues with Tagovailoa that are a little concerning.

In college, he had the luxury of playing alongside the best players in the country and usually against extremely outmatched competition. In the NFL, the tables will be turned on him. While he did make some nice throws in his career, a lot of the time his receivers were so open that most teenagers could have made some of the throws he did. Having to throw in tight coverage a lot in the NFL, Tua is in a whole new world. 

Because of the uncertainty around his injury, the 'Fins rookie might even redshirt this upcoming season. It's best to stay away from him and let someone else take the plunge in your fantasy draft.

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert was the third quarterback drafted this spring behind Joe Burrow and Tagovailoa. Herbert is another quarterback who should be drafted by someone other than you. Not to mention, the former Oregon Duck is penciled in as the backup behind Tyrod Taylor entering the season.

For now, though, it appears he will spend at least part of 2020 campaign learning behind a not-so-bad quarterback in Taylor. 

Herbert will likely be a great fantasy quarterback at some point in his career, it just won't be this year. 

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor was one of the best running backs in college football history. Wisconsin is no stranger to great college running backs and Taylor will likely be an above-average, perhaps even a Pro Bowl running back throughout his career. However, his NFL career will likely be off to a slow start.

Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, Taylor is being thrown into one of the deepest running back groups in the NFL. With Marlon Mack set as the starter, Taylor is sitting in what looks to be a running back by committee for at least his rookie season. Taylor also has plenty of competition with Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins behind him.

In a running back group that has too many mouths to feed, Taylor likely won’t have the fantasy output his rookie season that he will have later in his career, making him a much better dynasty pick than in redraft leagues. 

J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

J.K. Dobbins was one of the most exciting running backs in college football during his time at Ohio State. Being drafted by a team with a great rushing attack seems like the perfect fit for Dobbins. However, that may not be the case just yet.

The offense runs through Lamar Jackson, who likes to run just as much as his running backs. Dobbins will also be losing carries to starting running back Mark Ingram. Ingram has been a solid workhorse his entire career and it doesn’t appear he will be slowing down anytime soon.

It is unlikely Dobbins sees the starting role this season unless Ingram suffers an injury. Even then, Gus Edwards will be in the mix and hinder some of Dobbins' production.

Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills

Zack Moss may be the most underrated running back in the 2020 class. Having said that, Moss is in a very similar situation to Dobbins. Moss is on a team with a great defense that likes to run the ball. Also, the Bills have a starting quarterback in Josh Allen who also likes to tote the rock like Lamar Jackson.

Moss is also in the reserve role behind starter Devin Singletary. 

The bad part for Moss? Singletary is entering just his second NFL season, unlike Dobbins who is behind a 10-year vet.

Moss will likely be splitting carries in Buffalo for as long as he is there, which could be a few years at least. As good as Moss appears to be, it may be a while before he gets to be the leader in an NFL backfield.

Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Reagor was drafted by one of the most WR-needy teams in the league in the Eagles. Philadelphia used their first-round pick on Reagor, who entered the draft on the rise. While he was a much-need addition, it may be a year or two before Reagor becomes a big-time contributor in Philadelphia.

With DeSean Jackson now back from injury and Alshon Jeffrey also ahead of him on the depth chart, Reagor is likely the team's third or fourth receiver, depending on how well newly acquired Marquise Goodwin plays.

With a backfield that has a three-headed monster soaking up carries, it is hard to invest in a team's third or fourth wide receiver. The Eagles also have two talented tight ends as well. 

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Brandon Aiyuk was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and immediately made a very good 49ers’ team even more dangerous. While he is a speedy receiver who is excellent after the catch, he may not be in line for consistent fantasy stats, at least in his rookie season.

The 49ers are a run-first offense with multiple running backs who can carry the ball on any down. And the name of the fantasy game is opportunity, and unfortunately for Aiyuk, he might not get a lot of that in his rookie season. 

While the Niners lost Deebo Samuel to a foot injury that could sideline him for the beginning of the season, it might not be Aiyuk who immediately steps into the starting role. That's because Kyle Shanahan's offense is incredibly complicated for rookies to digest. Even Samuel had trouble with the playbook, as he was used mainly as a runner and in the screen game as he started to get more acclimated with his role. 

The 49ers also have a lot of mouths to feed. George Kittle is the unquestioned No. 1 pass-game threat in the Niners' offense, then there's Kendrick Bourne who will probably start at one receiver spot. Aiyuk will have to compete with Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis and others for the final starting spot. 

While Aiyuk could easily land that starting role until Samuel returns, he's still probably fourth in line for targets on a team that just doesn't pass very often. 

Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, TE, New England Patriots

The 2020 NFL Draft did not feature much talent in the tight end department, especially when it comes to receiving skills. Unlike the 2019 NFL Draft which featured T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, Irv Smith Jr. and Jace Sternberger. All of those guys were drafted in the first 75 picks in 2019 while only one tight end was drafted in the first 90 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft (Cole Kmet).

The Patriots drafted two of the first four tight ends in 2020 by selecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Both Keene and Asiasi are behind Matt LaCosse on the depth chart in New England. While the Patriots have had success in the past with multiple tight ends, that was with Tom Brady and two talented guys in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

While all rookie tight ends should be avoided in fantasy this season, Asiasi and Keene are worth mentioning as some may see one of them as a potential late-round sleeper. Even with an injury to LaCosse, a Patriots’ tight end is not worth banking on this season.

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