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20 Fantasy-Relevant Players Likely to Go After the First 20 Picks of 2020 NFL Draft

20 Fantasy-Relevant Players Likely to Go After the First 20 Picks of 2020 NFL Draft

20 Fantasy-Relevant Players Likely to Go After the First 20 Picks of 2020 NFL Draft

Any fantasy football owner worth his weight knows about Joe Burrow. He also knows about the triumvirate of receivers all predicted to go within the first half of the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday night. That's because he/she knows that all four could have huge fantasy implications this year. Even if Burrow is not a fantasy stud this upcoming year, his play will impact those around him. For example, a lot of A.J. Green owners might look to sell high when the Bengals select Burrow with the first pick.

But what about those players selected around the midpoint of the first round? Marquise Brown was drafted 25th overall last year and racked up seven touchdowns. Or consider Miles Sanders. He went about 30 picks later (53rd overall) and went on to post more than 1,300 yards from scrimmage. The point is without even digging deep into rookie sleepers, there are plenty of players that will be drafted after the so-called studs in this draft who should be on your fantasy radar.

Of course where these players land will be huge. For example, if New England decides to take one of the receivers mentioned below, that player will have to deal with the disdain that Bill Belichick seems to have for rookie wide receivers. He also will have to battle for targets wit Julian Edelman from a quarterback (Jarrett Stidham?) who isn't Tom Brady. However, should one of those receivers fall a couple of spots to Minnesota that offers a much softer landing spot with Stefon Diggs now in Buffalo.

So with that in mind, here are 20 players that are likely to go after the midpoint of the first round on Thursday or perhaps during the second round on Friday night that fantasy owners should keep a close eye on.

Wide Receivers

Bank on at least one or two of the options below to be drafted within the last dozen picks of the first round on Thursday night. If you don't know already, this is one of the deepest wide receiver classes ever and could easily rival the 2014 group (33 total drafted, 12 in the first two rounds). Any of the names below that don't go in the first round will absolutely go in the second. Depending on where they land, they could be immediate contributors. Even those that don't are likely to be drafted high in keeper and dynasty leagues. The talent is unquestioned. But the rankings are all over the place, so I have listed them here alphabetically.

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Likely Landing Spot: New Orleans Saints

Aiyuk might be one of the most talented receivers in this draft. It is certainly not a lack of talent that has him going in the second round in some mocks. It is health concerns. Most NFL teams hate uncertainty and with so much this year because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and how it impacted the pre-draft process, Aiyuk's core-muscle surgery on April 7 will scare many teams away. This is why I see a team like New Orleans willing to take a chance on him sooner rather than later.

The Saints are one of the most talented teams coming into this season and can afford to gamble on a player like Aiyuk. Should he not be able to play Week 1, the Saints already have All-Everything Michael Thomas and the dependable Emmanuel Sanders on the other side. And when the 33-year-old Sanders is a free agent after the 2020 season, the Saints will be more than happy to let him go and slot Aiyuk opposite Thomas.

Tee Higgins, Clemson

Likely Landing Spot: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts already traded their first-round pick (No. 13) to the 49ers for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. So when their turn finally comes up in the second (34th overall, thanks to a trade with Washington during last year's draft), don't be surprised if Indianapolis uses it on a wide receiver. After an injury-marred season, T.Y. Hilton will return as WR1 for new Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, but there is a void at WR2. Zach Pascal led the team with 607 yards in 2019 but he averaged fewer than 40 receiving yards per game.

Indianapolis might be a little gun-shy about using another second-round pick on a WR, as Parris Campbell has disappointed as a rookie. But if I'm general manager Chris Ballard, I would definitely consider taking Higgins.

Justin Jefferson, LSU

Likely Landing Spot: Philadelphia Eagles

I've seen Jefferson often connected to the Packers (No. 30), but he won't make it that far. I don't think he makes it past the Eagles, who have pick No. 21. And let's be honest, Jefferson might not even make it to the Eagles. But should Jefferson be there for Philadelphia, he is a perfect fit. With the speedy DeSean Jackson and the physical Alshon Jeffery, Jefferson will give the Eagles the exact kind of receiver they desperately need – the "gotta have that catch" option.

Michael Pittman Jr., USC

Likely Landing Spot: Dallas Cowboys

Pittman is a highly rated "possession" receiver who was a Biletnikoff Award finalist after snagging 101 passes this past season. At one point he was thought to be a lock for the first round. Yet poor speed metrics at the NFL Scouting Combine have seen his projections tumble out of the first round. Some even have him going in the third round. However, his stats and game tape could still make him a first-round pick. I see him falling somewhere in between, likely to the Cowboys in the second round.

There's a huge drop-off after Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the Cowboys' current WR depth chart as Tavon Austin had just 13 catches and one touchdown in 2019. Pittman would be an extremely dangerous WR3 in Dallas.