Five Rookies I Am Acquiring

John Hesterman

It would be very simple to just declare that I’m going after the top-five rookies from this year’s draft. However, when it comes to rookie drafts, that is simply not plausible.

With rookie drafting or a new dynasty start-up in mind, we will be going through these in reverse ADP order. Some of these represent a stash type of play intended for future use. Others seemingly appear to be plug-and-play assets who can help improve a dynasty roster this season.

Quintez Cephus, WR DET

If there is a late-round stab at future greatness, Cephus is it. The former Badger has a lot of athleticism and strength packed into his six-foot-one, 202-pound frame.

In his last two seasons in Wisconsin, he posted 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns.

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His combine performance left a lot to discuss. It was both impressive and disappointing. His 4.73-second 40-yard dash failed to impress, well… anyone. In fact, it landed him the second-percentile range among his fellow receivers and could be part of the reason his draft stock fell as low as it did.

His bench press, on the other hand, landed him in the 96th percentile among his peers. His 23 reps were the most among the receivers. His 38 1/2″ vertical also scored highly, placing him in the 84th percentile.

To piggy-back on those particular traits, he was graded by PFF very highly on contested catch rate, especially in relation to the receivers drafted ahead of him.

By now, most people have seen what cornerback Jeff Okudah, third overall pick in the draft, had to say regarding Cephus; referring to him as the best receiver he faced in college. While Cephus’ 40-time did not impress anyone, that comment should have.

Cephus is a stash player for the 2020 season as he may not see a meaningful number of snaps right away. However, he is an exceptional route-runner, despite not having the top speed to create much separation. In rookie drafts, his ADP is 48th overall.

Van Jefferson, WR LAR

This draft class of receivers is stacked with talent. Second-round rookie Van Jefferson landed in a Sean McVay offense that just so happens to have a recently departed wide receiver. For those playing at home, that means vacated targets. Jefferson is a wicked route runner who can shift and cut quickly and cleanly. He is six-foot-two inches tall and weighs in at 200 pounds.

The former Florida Gator does not have great long-speed but makes up for that in athletic ability. He represents a prospect who has more to offer in the skill-set department than in gaudy production metrics.

With Brandin Cooks leaving Los Angeles for Houston, there are between 95-115 targets up for grabs. Furthermore, the Rams were running a lot more of 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends) in the back half of the 2019 season. That would leave either Josh Reynolds or Jefferson operating opposite of Robert Woods. Not a bad place to be, especially if Woods becomes more a focal point for opposing defenses.

Jefferson could contribute his rookie campaign, but he will have to work behind Reynolds to start the season. Jefferson may not profile as the eventual focal point of this offense, but he can and will be a solid producer in an offense that balances run to pass plays very well. In rookie drafts, his ADP is 26th overall.

Joe Burrow, QB CIN

One thing I look for in a quarterback for my dynasty teams is one who has a relative zero chance of getting benched. Did anyone else watch Ryan Finley play last season? Apologies for any foul memories that may dredge up, but it proves a point. There is no question that Burrow will be handed the reigns with an excess amount of leash to go along with it.

At this point, most dynasty enthusiasts are familiar with Burrow and his impressive 2019 production tape and stats. We will not be covering that in great detail here.

Here is the meat-and-potatoes of why value over risk is important when it comes to Burrow: the offense is built for success. A potential healthy AJ Green paired with the proven production of Tyler Boyd and an improperly used threat Joe Mixon is a great core to take NFL 101 with. Not to mention the secondary options in Auden Tate, John Ross, and impressive rookie Tee Higgins. This offense has some boom potential and Burrow has the physical talent paired with the mental prowess to open it up once he settles into the next level.

Burrow is currently 19th overall and QB1 in rookie drafts and 23rd overall in startup drafts in superflex format. The cost of acquisition for a highly-touted rookie quarterback is always somewhat of a risk. Burrow has the football IQ and decision-making process that can help overcome some of the minor weaknesses he brings to the Bengals.

Jalen Reagor, WR PHI

Rookie wide receivers producing at a high level is more the exception than the rule. Sure, there are some easy names to conjure that defied that rule such as Odell Beckham Jr and AJ Brown among several others over the last several years.

Reagor is the right talent landing in the right offense that should indicate immediate relevancy from a fantasy standpoint. His speed, quickness, and apparent nose for either first downs or the end zone make him an appealing asset in an offense that struggled to keep receivers on the field last season.

Word around the campfire is that Alshon Jeffery may start the season on the PUP list. DeSean Jackson is aging and also under fire recently for some off-the-field comments that have, quite frankly, left his future murky at best. JJ Arcega-Whiteside largely disappointed when given an opportunity throughout the 2019 season.

Assuming he can scratch the surface of the playbook, Reagor just needs to build some rapport with a healthy Carson Wentz to start finding some looks.

Reagor comes in at eighth overall in rookie drafts behind only CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Lamb will have to carve out a role between Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Jeudy is opposite Courtland Sutton but has an unpolished Drew Lock under center. Of the three receivers here, Reagor represents the clearest path to immediate opportunity at a slightly lower cost.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB KC

The reigning Super Bowl Champions did not have many holes to fill on their roster. The Chiefs selecting a running back with the last pick of round one was a little bit of a surprise to many. Apparently, they felt the hole the needed to fill typically lines up behind newly minted and handsomely-paid Patrick Mahomes.

From the Louisana swamps to the Kansas City Chiefs, Edwards-Helaire rumbles on. He brings with him the ability to operate between the tackles with an elusive tendency to gain extra yards. He also happens to have been the best route-runner and receiver among the other backs in the 2019 class. Edwards-Helaire is the type of running back who makes head coach Andy Reid’s mustache twitch.

There is a distinct lack of clarity as to how involved CEH will be to open the season. Let’s not forget that Kareem Hunt received the early workload simply due to a Spencer Ware injury. Chiefs running backs assistant Deland McCullough recently indicated that he expected a “big jump” from Damien Williams heading into the start of the season. Darwin Thompson remains on the roster and the Chiefs brought in DeAndre Washington as well.

The talent that Edwards-Helaire brings to the team is mirrored by the capital spent to acquire him. At this time it remains unsure that he will be a day-one starter, but the draft capital suggests he will get opportunities to shine.

Per the DLF Rookie rankings, he is the first selection. In startup drafts, he 16th overall. Make no mistake, the cost of acquisition is high, but so is his ceiling. Paired with Reid and Mahomes, CEH could be a league-winning type of player within a season or two.

john hesterman