More than half of the NFL’s 2020 regular season schedule has been played, and rookies making a major impact is no longer surprising, but expected. With no preseason games to get acclimated to the game speed of professional football, the first several weeks of the regular season served as a pseudo-preseason for the incoming class. Now, we’re rolling toward the playoff push, and every game, every performance, every rookie matters.
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 11, the spotlight shines brightly on two running backs who stole the show for their team and a semi-forgotten wide receiver who re-emerged after his bye week.
RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
Here’s to hoping that the Ravens have finally decided to lean on the most talented running back on their roster with their playoff hopes on the line down the stretch—when he returns from the COVID list. Dobbins was sensational on Sunday, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 15 carries in an overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. Dobbins finished with 18.5 fantasy points, ranking as a high-end RB1 for Week 11. The reason why his stock is rising isn’t just because he had a good game. No other Ravens running back had more than three carries with Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram combining for only five. Baltimore’s reluctance to give Dobbins the lion’s share of the workload has been an issue in the past. Hopefully, Week 11 was the start of something more upon his return.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
The first running back taken in the 2020 NFL Draft has been darn good all season. The only issue has been the consistency of his workload. We saw him dominate on opening night with 25 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Houston Texans. We saw a similar performance five weeks later against the Buffalo Bills: 26 carries for 161 yards. But we’ve also seen the nine, nine, and eight-touch games Edwards-Helaire had in the three games prior to Week 11. On Sunday night, the former LSU star had 15 touches that resulted in 77 total yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns. It was his best game since that Buffalo outing and reminded everyone of how dynamic he can be when the Chiefs commit to giving him more work. He finished as the RB2 overall this week and re-emerged as the top-15 fantasy back everyone expected him to be.
WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Lamb didn’t tip the scales with a 20-point fantasy day, but his performance truly embodies what this stock watch is all about. It’s not just the rookies who had the best games, it’s about who raised their fantasy stock the most. That’s why you’re not seeing players like Justin Herbert, Antonio Gibson, Chase Claypool, or James Robinson on this list—their bar is set so high that just having a very good game isn’t enough to change their status, it’s expected. Lamb, on the other hand, has been completely off the fantasy radar since Andy Dalton sustained a concussion and then suffered from COVID-19. He put up 0.1 fantasy points against Washington then 8.7 points against Philadelphia in Weeks 7 and 8. He then had a solid 15.1-point game against the Steelers before Dallas’ bye, but few fantasy managers trusted him enough to play him. Coming off of the bye, many were looking to see if Lamb could string together another good performance upon Dalton’s return and he did just that. He caught four passes for 34 yards and a touchdown (and also had 12 rushing yards) and is now back in top-40 wide receiver contention heading into the Thanksgiving contest with Washington.