Rookie Winners and Losers 

Rookie Winners and Losers: CeeDee Lamb

Brady Podloski | May 4th, 2020

In this year’s NFL draft, there were serious NFL implications for the rookie class. Most players went to a good team though, where each should get opportunities this year or next year. It was hard finding rookie players that were losers, as everyone largely got the right fit. For this article, however, the winners are players whose fits, make sense, and have a chance to make a significant impact in their career. The losers are the players whom I would have preferred to go elsewhere. 


CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys

While you may think Lamb is a loser, he’s going to be a dynasty and redraft assets for the 2020 season for several reasons. The biggest concern is that there are too many mouths to feed on the offense with the emergence of Michael Gallup, and the 100 million dollar man, Amari Cooper. However, there are 140 vacated targets with the departure of Randall Cobb and Jason Witten. While tight end, Blake Jarwin and Tony Pollard may see an increase in targets, Lamb should see a considerable number of targets. As well, the offense is high powered, as Dak Prescott threw for over 4500 yards, and teams will find it difficult to cover Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb. 

Furthermore, as a first-round pick and one of the best wide receiver prospects to come out in years, Lamb has translatable skills that will allow him to hit the ground running. His run after the catch ability is an underrated aspect of his game, where he has elusive playmaking and seems to always make a defender miss. Short-term, he may be more valuable, towards the end of the season. I expect him to get 80 to 90 targets this year, making him a serviceable high-end WR3. Lamb has the highest long-term value, as he has elite traits and goes to a high power offense. 

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts

It is not often that a highly talented running back with high draft capital goes to one of the most talented offensive lines in the league. Taylor has workhorse running back skills with his toughness, cutting ability, and contact balance. Taylor can be an RB1, but the only barrier for him is his fumbling problem, as he had 15 fumbles over three years. If he can get the fumbles under control, he’ll be a valuable running back for years to come. 

Antonio Gibson, RB, Redskins

With each touch, Gibson was a threat to score as he’s one of the most elusive and hardest runners to bring down. He has the speed (4.39 40-yard dash) and size at 6’3” and 228lbs to be a dynamic running back. The great part about being in the Redskins backfield is there is a significant opportunity. Adrian Peterson is 35 years old, Derrius Guice hasn’t stayed healthy at all, and Bryce Love is coming off a significant knee injury. With Gibson being the team’s second pick (in the third round), he will have the opportunity to showcase his skills. He’s the type of player that will impress coaches with his playmaking ability and likely wouldn’t let go of the starting job. 

Joshua Kelley, RB, Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers let Melvin Gordon and his 162 carries and 52 targets go. Kelley has sneaky value as he may be able to replace Gordon and be a valuable asset in a running back by committee group. He isn’t much of a receiver but has the size to carry a considerable workload. Kelley is more of a one cut back with great contact balance and should be the goal-line back.  If Austin Ekeler gets injured, I’d think Kelley becomes an RB2. He’s a buy low and sleeper as nobody thinks he’ll beat our Justin Jackson.  


D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions

In 2018, the Lions invested a second-round pick in Kerryon Johnson, who has had a significant injury each year. Thus, my concern is that Swift may be limited to an RB2 because of the running back by committee. He arguably has the potential to be an RB1 with his passing catching ability and his elusiveness. To get the full value from Swift, you are banking on Johnson getting hurt.  So Swift is a loser as there were plenty of other places he would have succeeded. 

J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens

I think Dobbins will have a fine fantasy year, and will likely end up as a low-end RB2. However, he’s a loser because of the scheme and system the Ravens run. To simplify, the Ravens running backs don’t need to utilize their vision as often as other schemes do. The running backs that succeed there are the ones who get to the open hole and make people miss. Dobbin’s best attribute isn’t making people miss, but is his vision. With that said, he’s still going to get goal-line work and lots of opportunities to carry the ball, I argue that there are better systems for him. 

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers

Loved Aiyuk coming out of the pre-draft process and the potential he has. Furthermore, he was a first-round pick and will command targets. The reason he is a loser is that the Niners wouldn’t maximize his best skills. His best trait was body control and contested catches on deep routes, with his second-best trait is run after the catch. Jimmy Garoppolo not going to be able to feed him the deep targets so he will have to fight with Deebo Samuel for targets and run after the catch. While it’s not the worst fit, many better places would have maximized Aiyuks skills. 

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