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Fantasy football drafts are in full swing! Folks are looking to grab this year's Alexander Mattison, Deebo Samuel, or D.K. Metcalf now more than ever. That’s where we at SI Fantasy come in! We’ve already released our Preseason Pro series, where we listed all of our top sleepers, busts, breakouts, stash & cash picks.
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READ MORE: Fabs' Top 5 Sleepers
However, there’s still more to cover in our draft content, like which first-year players I should be taking a shot on in the later rounds of my 2020 drafts. Who knows when a hidden gem could be unearthed! With that said, here are five rookies (aside from the big names) who fantasy fans should take a flier on in the final five rounds of their drafts.
RB Joshua Kelley, Chargers
Kelley is battling Justin Jackson for the right to be second on the Chargers depth chart behind Austin Ekeler, and I think he’ll emerge sooner than later. A fourth-round pick out of U.C.L.A., Kelley rushed for a combined 2,303 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per attempt while also catching 38 passes out of the backfield. With over 200 vacated touches in the absence of Melvin Gordon, Kelley could emerge into a standalone flex starter in a best-case scenario. He’s not coming off the board until 148.7 based on our Fantasy Football World Championships ADP data, so you can get this former UCLA Bruins runner for free in most leagues. There's a lot of potential with Kelley.
RB Darrynton Evans, Titans
No one in his right mind would argue that Derrick Henry won’t remain the Titans offense's centerpiece in 2020. Still, Evans could turn into a nice complement or change-of-pace runner when the team finds itself in passing-down situations. Dion Lewis, who is now with the Giants, saw 33 percent of the Titans carries and 15 percent of the team's target share a season ago. So unless Tennessee wants to run Henry completely into the ground, Evans should see enough burn to be worth a late look. He's also the primary handcuff for owners who land Henry, so his value would take a big-time upward leap if Henry were forced to miss time due to injuries or COVID-19.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
Aiyuk was a first-round pick for the 49ers, and he will find himself in a great position to succeed right out of the gate. Deebo Samuel's status for the start of the season is in question due to an injured foot, Emmanuel Sanders is now in New Orleans, and Jalen Hurd is out with a torn ACL. With so many questions at wide receiver, Aiyuk is a virtual lock to start the season as the top option for coach Kyle Shanahan. Speaking of Shanahan, he's on the record saying Aiyuk was his favorite wideout in the entire 2020 NFL draft. A great fit for the offense due to his skills after the catch, Aiyuk is a tremendous player to target late in your drafts.
WR Bryan Edwards, Raiders
Much like Aiyuk, Edwards will have a shot to be featured during this rookie season due to an injury to an incumbent starter: Tyrell Williams. With the veteran out for 2020, Edwards has been working at the "X" receiver position during camp. A 17-year-old starter as a freshman at South Carolina, he has already gained his quarterback's trust, Derek Carr, who has gushed about his new weapon in the passing attack. A violent and aggressive route runner who has drawn comparisons to Davante Adams, Edwards has a shot at becoming the top option at wide receiver in a Las Vegas offense that lacks a legitimate No. 1 player at the position.
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WR Laviska Shenault, Jaguars
The Jaguars offense lacks established playmakers on offense, even more so now after the team decided to release Leonard Fournette. So, who might step up in Jacksonville? It could be Shenault, a second-round pick out of Colorado. While he's not a speedster, Shenault is a physical, versatile wideout who had nearly 1,800 receiving yards and 276 rushing yards in his final two collegiate seasons. In that time, he also forced the most missed tackles among the wideouts in the 2020 class. Who knows, Shenault could push his way up to second on the depth chart behind D.J. Chark during his rookie campaign. A free pick in drafts, he's a player to watch.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest fantasy football news and analysis!
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