With the first month and a half 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 6, the spotlight shines brightly on two receivers and a breakout running back.
WR: Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
Jefferson somehow managed to top his breakout Week 3 game with a monstrous performance in a losing effort against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Jefferson finished with a career-high nine receptions on a career-high 11 targets for 166 yards and had his first-ever multi-touchdown game. He also caught the second-longest pass of his brief NFL career, a 49-yard touchdown in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Aside from his subdued output against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5, Jefferson has been on a tear for about a month now and has really acclimated himself to Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense. He’ll always draw comparisons to Stefon Diggs because he was drafted with the first-round pick Minnesota received when trading the star receiver to the Buffalo Bills, but so far, Jefferson is living up to the hype and looks to be just as productive for the Vikings now as Diggs was in the past. Jefferson is a weekly WR2 moving forward once the Vikings return from their Week 7 bye.
RB: D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
We’ll stay in the NFC North for the second player on this list. The late addition of veteran running back Adrian Peterson limited Swift’s early-season workload, but he finally had his breakout performance on Sunday. Swift set career highs across the board with 14 carries for 116 yards and two scores on the ground, adding three catches for seven yards into the mix as well. He looked like the far more explosive rusher compared to Peterson against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and no play exemplified that more than his career-long 54-yard run in the second quarter. The fantasy running back landscape has been decimated by injuries, so many are hopeful that this is a sign of things to come for the player many considered to be the best running back in the 2020 class. A Week 7 matchup with the porous Falcons defense is on tap, so consider Swift an RB2 as his stock spikes upward.
WR: Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
Although veteran receiver A.J. Green had his best game of the season in Week 6, he still wasn’t able to match the output of former Clemson star Tee Higgins, who appears to firmly be Cincinnati’s No. 2 wide receiver behind Tyler Boyd. Just like the other two names on this list, Higgins set some career-high marks on Sunday—in catches (six), receiving yards (125), and longest catch (67 yards). He has scored double-digit fantasy points in each of his last four games and is currently ranked as the WR34 in average points per game since Week 2 in PPR leagues. He’s turning into a pretty reliable flex/bench option and his role should only continue to grow as the season goes along.