With the first five weeks of the season in the books, the 2020 NFL rookie class is making some serious noise. With no preseason games to get acclimated to the game speed of professional football, the first few weeks of the regular season served as a pseudo-preseason for the incoming class. Now, we’re cooking with gas and rookies are making a major impact across the NFL.
Each Wednesday, The Draft Network, in conjunction with Panini, will be taking a close look at three rookies whose stock is on the rise in fantasy football. After Week 5, the spotlight shines brightly on three players at three difference-makers, two at the wide receiver position and one at quarterback.
WR: Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
No one raised their stock more this last week than Claypool, who had the best rookie performance of the season thus far. The former Notre Dame pass-catcher hauled in seven passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns, while adding a fourth touchdown on the ground. He was just the second Steelers rookie in history to have a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game. No fantasy player—including quarterbacks—outscored Claypool in Week 5, as the rookie finished with a whopping 42.6 fantasy points—it was the third-highest single-game fantasy output of the season thus far. Week 5 wasn’t the first time Claypool flashed, either, so this performance won’t be a one-hit-wonder. If Diontae Johnson’s injury keeps him off the field in the coming weeks, Claypool’s role will only continue to expand. He’s one of the most-added players off the waiver wire this week.
QB: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Herbert continues to light the NFL on fire with each passing week and seems to outdo himself with each new opportunity. On Monday Night Football, on the road in the Superdome, Herbert set a new rookie MNF record with four touchdown passes. He was 20-of-34 for 264 passing yards and did not turn the ball over. That 27.36-point performance was good enough to finish as the No. 3 overall fantasy quarterback in Week 5 after finishing as the No. 7 overall quarterback with 24.0 points the prior week. He and the Chargers will be on a bye next week because of COVID-19-related scheduling changes, but he'll return with four straight juicy matchups before having to go to Buffalo on the last Sunday in November. His stock is way, way up.
WR: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Lamb’s sensational rookie season continues to roll on, as he did something that hasn’t been accomplished since 1996 in Week 5. He became the first player in 24 years to record five or more receptions in each of his first five career games. The last player to do that was Terry Glenn. But Glenn didn’t play in Week 1 of his rookie season, so if you extend it out to five-plus receptions as a rookie over the team’s first five games, no player has accomplished that feat since at least 1950. Lamb had eight catches for 124 yards and helped the Cowboys add to their win column on Sunday despite the horrific injury to starting quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s the early favorite in my book to take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in real life and in fantasy football.