NFL Power Rankings 2020
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In the time since Patrick Mahomes announced “I’m going to Disney World!” three long months ago, the world has been altered forever by a global pandemic. The NFL has also seen a fair amount of change—though certainly not to the same extent—with free agency and the NFL Draft transforming the landscape of the league for years to come. Without further ado, here is a first look at the NFL Power Rankings for 2020:
Kansas City Chiefs: The defending Super Bowl champions that toyed with the league last year have a squad that remains largely intact. Their draft haul included a much needed running back in Clyde-Edwards Helaire and a huge bolstering of their offensive line and secondary. A fantasy tip for the Chiefs is to stash Helaire in a later round should he emerge as the top back in a crowded backfield. For a team that returns most starters from a Super Bowl winning team, the Chiefs remain the top dog.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are possibly the scariest team in the league, but they have proven time and time again that they fail to perform on the biggest stages in the playoffs. They filled the few holes they had in their roster and look set to be a Super Bowl Contender again. Don’t expect the same level of fantasy production out of Lamar Jackson this year, though, as the Ravens took J.K. Dobbins, but he will still be a top three quarterback. Investing in Mark Andrews could be even wiser with Hayden Hurst gone.
San Francisco 49ers: After a crushing defeat to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, the Niners will have to recover. They lost stars Emmanuel Sanders and Joe Staley, but replaced them well on draft night and should be an NFC Title contender once again. With Sanders gone and draftee Brandon Aiyuk transitioning into the NFL, sophomore receiver Deebo Samuel should emerge as a fantasy football star this year.
New Orleans Saints: This is possibly the best offensive roster in the NFL, boasting the likes of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Emmanuel Sanders. With the new and improved Buccaneers and Falcons, the Saints now have formidable competition in the NFC South, but Drew Brees will be out to prove that he still has some magic left in the tank. This could be the year they finally get past the “refs” in the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson and Co. have shown no signs of slowing down, consistently making the playoffs in recent years. They will battle it out for playoff spots with the Niners, Cardinals, and Rams in a stacked NFC West, but Seattle will now have to do so without Jadeveon Clowney, which is a big blow to the defense. Fantasywise, D.K. Metcalf will be a strong fantasy football wide receiver after his breakout rookie season.
Buffalo Bills: All of a sudden, the AFC East is wide open and the Bills—yes, the Bills—are favored to win the division. A strong playoff team last year, the Bills added Stefon Diggs and addressed other needs to make themselves a playoff team once again—even more so now that Brady is gone from the pesky Patriots. It would be a stretch to call them Super Bowl favorites, but the “other” New York team has reason to hope. The Bills Defense will be an excellent fantasy choice in an offensively challenged AFC East.
Minnesota Vikings: Free agency saw the Purple People Eaters lose a franchise cornerstone in Stefon Diggs, as well as members of their strong secondary like Xavier Rhodes, but the Vikings filled some of these holes in the draft and will battle out the Packers for the NFC North title. Adam Thielen will be a WR1 option and Justin Jefferson will be a WR2 option with significant upside as a rookie.
Green Bay Packers: The Pack had a good season last year, but a head-scratching draft brings up the question of whether the front office thinks it’s time to rebuild. If Aaron Rodgers’s transition out to Jordan Love is as swift as his replacement of Brett Favre, this franchise will continue to contend for years to come. In a year where the passing game is uncertain, Aaron Jones is worth a first round fantasy football pick.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans shocked the NFL last season, ending the Patriots’ dynasty, manhandling the Super Bowl favorite Baltimore Ravens, and falling just one bad half short of a Super Bowl appearance. Their roster remains largely intact and Derrick Henry will rush the Titans into the AFC South Title. The only question is whether Mark Vrabel’s predictable game plan will prove to be sustainable in the NFL. For fantasy, Henry’s tremendous volume justifies him as a RB1, and A.J. Brown is a top WR2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The TOMpa Bay Buccaneers took a 7-9 team with a legally blind quarterback, replaced him with the GOAT, and brought perennial pro bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski out of retirement. They now have a powerful offense with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Gronk. They added Ke’Shawn Vaughn to help a questionable running game through the draft and to pass protection for Brady. Their defense is a fantasy sleeper choice, but it would be advisable to stay away from a crowded offense (though Brady will be a high end QB2).
New England Patriots: The Pats traded out of the first round in this year’s draft to snag a Division 2 safety with their first selection in the second round. This ranking may seem high at first glance, but it’s tough to bet against one of the greatest coaches in NFL history—no matter who the quarterback is. Furthermore, we can’t forget a historically strong defense. Look for Sony Michel to increase his production from last year as the Patriots transition to a run-heavy offense, especially with Brady off to Tampa and Jarrett Stidham currently under center.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys may be the most talented team on both sides of the ball. With a strong offensive line blocking the way for Ezekiel Elliot—one of the league’s top running backs—and a strong group of linebackers leading the way for a strong defense, the Cowboys have Super Bowl potential. However, with the departure of Jason Garrett, they are left with a first year coach. Only time will tell if Mike McCarthy can put the pieces together to lead the Cowboys to the promised land. Fantasywise, Amari Cooper’s numbers may drop from last year with an emerging Micheal Gallup and first round pick Ceedee Lamb also making big impacts.
Philadelphia Eagles: In a skill-player loaded draft, the Eagles had opportunities to bolster their wide receiver position, a group that included an undrafted former quarterback by the end of last season. Though the Eagles did pick up Jalen Reagor, a wide receiver from TCU, in the first round (a reach at pick 21), the Eagles opted for QB Jalen Hurts in the second round. The pick may end up being alright, but it seems like the Eagles were being too cute. The question for this season, as always, is whether or not Carson Wentz can stay on the field. As the lead back in Philly, Miles Sanders is poised for a breakout year. Don’t be surprised if he goes in the first few rounds in your fantasy league.
Houston Texans: The Texans got worse this offseason. They traded perhaps the best wide receiver in football in Deandre Hopkins for the talented but injury-ridden RB David Johnson and a bag of potato chips. The Texans are still solid, however, with a strong offensive line and JJ Watt anchoring the defense, though it remains to be seen if Watt can stay healthy for the whole season. Brandin Cooks may become Deshaun Watson’s number one target this season, especially with Will Fuller’s injury concerns, and has great value in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts went into last season with Super Bowl aspirations. The unexpected retirement of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck right before the season, however, put the Colts behind the 8-ball. The team is talented, with T.Y. Hilton on the outside and Quenton Nelson, arguably the league’s best lineman, in the interior. If Phillip Rivers can get back to his old self and limit turnovers, the Colts have a chance to make a run into the playoffs. Micheal Pittman Jr., the Colts’ second round pick out of USC, will be an intriguing risk in the later round. He is the clear number two wide receiver behind Hilton—with high upside.
Arizona Cardinals: The beneficiaries of the Texans’ willingness to unload one of the league’s most dangerous weapons were the Cardinals, who landed Deandre Hopkins this offseason. The Cardinals are still young and the jury is still out on coach Kliff Kingsbury, but the Cards will be fun to watch nevertheless. Larry Fitzgerald has been a solid fantasy player for what seems like forever. His volume of catches and production, however, will certainly go down as Deandre Hopkins takes the lead wide receiver role.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are always relevant at the end of the season, and as one of the league’s most storied franchises, they face a lot of pressure to get back into the playoffs. Even without Big Ben for much of the season, the team still went 8-8. Big Ben’s health remains a question mark; at his old age, he seems unlikely to get back to Super Bowl form. Don’t be scared to take Juju Smith-Schuster early this year—even with a slightly disappointing 2019-2020 campaign and the arrival of second round pick Chase Claypool outside. He is clearly the team’s number one option at receiver.
Los Angeles Rams: The Rams were extremely disappointing last season, missing the playoffs after their trip to the Super Bowl. However, they are definitely talented with Aaron Donald, perhaps the league’s best defensive player leading the way for a strong defense. But they did lose a few key pieces this offseason: DE Dante Fowler, RB Todd Gurley, and WR Brandin Cooks, as well as a strong group of veterans. There is definitely uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball with Jared Goff, an unproven quarterback, leading the charge. Malcolm Brown, starting running back for the Rams, has good value in the middle-late rounds, as he will see the majority of carries barring more acquisitions at the running back position.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns came into this year with the flashy weapons necessary to make a run. Football games are won in the trenches with the defensive and offensive lines, however. The Browns addressed these needs with a necessary overpay for LT Jack Conklin, and the drafting of plug-and-play RT Jedrick Willis Jr. Baker Mayfield may have bookend tackles for the rest of his career, and will allow us to properly evaluate whether he is a good quarterback or not. Defensively, questions remain in the linebacker corps and the safety positions. Don’t get too invested in any of the Browns’ skill players because they are loaded. Nick Chubb is sharing the backfield with Kareem hunt. Odell Backham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are dangerous, but they take away from each other's production.
Denver Broncos: The Denver Broncos had perhaps the best wide receiver in the draft fall into their laps at pick 15. Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is an elite route-runner and technician on the outside. Pair Jeudy with emerging star Courtland Sutton, along with a dynamic duo of Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon in the backfield, and something is brewing in Denver. The defense, however, is lagging behind. On the fantasy side, I would not draft Melvin Gordon or Phillip Lindsay in the first two rounds in any fantasy league. Both are talented players but will be splitting carries the whole year.
Chicago Bears: Just three years after taking Mitchell Tribusky first overall in the 2017 draft, the Bears already seem to be moving on from Tribusky. With the acquisition of Nick Foles and the Bears declining to pick up a fifth year on Tribusky’s contract, the quarterback competition in Chicago is going to be interesting. The defense remains stellar with Khalil Mack leading the charge, but with the the most important position on the team up in the air, things can unravel quickly for this year’s Bears, who made a playoff run just two years ago. With questions at quarterback, David Montgomery is definitely a safe pick in the middle rounds.
Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers got their quarterback at sixth overall in the form of Oregon’s Justin Herbert. However, the Chargers may be unwilling to throw the young QB into the fray so early in his NFL career. With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, the ceiling is low for the Chargers. Austin Ekeler should be picked in the top three rounds in most leagues. After a highly productive 2019-2020 campaign and with Melvin Gordon no longer crowding the backfield, Ekeler is poised for a breakout year.
Atlanta Falcons: Just four years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the Falcons’ offense has explosive potential once again with the addition of Todd Gurley. On the defensive side of the ball, however, the Falcons lost all-pro OLB Vic Beasley Jr., their only real pass rush threat. Concerning Fantasy, Todd Gurley should be back. His knee has had time to heal and he should see a big workload this season. As always though, his injuries are still slightly concerning.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton has been up and down throughout his NFL career and the Panthers felt it was time to move on with former Baylor coach Matt Rhule taking the reins. Teddy Bridgewater is a solid quarterback. He showed flashes as a young player in Minnesota and played well for the Saints last year when Drew Brees was injured. There are multiple holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, especially with Luke Kuechly, captain of their defense, retiring this season. In my opinion, Christian Mccaferrey is still the number one fantasy player this year, especially in the PPR leagues. Mccaferrey will get 20 carries a game—plus his production catching balls out of the backfield.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins had the most selections out of any team in the NFL Draft. They got their quarterback at fifth overall, selecting Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. After that, however, the Dolphins drafted pieces that would best compliment Tua—not help the team. The Dolphins had holes in so many areas; drafting for need instead of the best player available was a questionable strategy. Despite the Dolphins lacking weapons on the outside, Devante Parker should be elite once again, no matter who is throwing to him.
Las Vegas Raiders: The most questionable pick of the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft was Henry Ruggs III, the speedster from Alabama, at 12th overall. Many considered Ruggs the third best receiver in the draft, less polished than Ceedee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy. With a team desperate for immediate reinforcements at the skill positions, this pick fell flat. The Raiders are rebuilding with a young defense that is lacking pass rush or elite cornerbacks and an offense with a terrible offensive line. Tyrell Williams has good value in the middle rounds of most leagues, and he’s a huge steal late as the number one receiver for the Raiders.
New York Giants: The Giants made a safe pick at number four overall. Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas is a high character professional, but lacks the elite athleticism to be a perennial all-pro tackle. Thomas will be solid, though. Of the four elite offensive lineman in the draft, he has the highest floor and is ready to play right away. Defensively, the Giants need help at all three levels. Obviously, Saquon Barkely is an absolute stud. With the addition of Dion Lewis into the fold, however, Barkely will not see the same amount of carries as last year. This is good news for Giants fans, but bad news for fantasy owners.
New York Jets: Newly hired GM Joe Douglas vowed to add “protectors and playmakers” in this year’s draft to help young QB Sam Darnold. The Jets got an athletic freak in Mekhi Becton at pick 11 in this year’s NFL Draft. Though he needs to refine his technique, he has freakish ability. Le’veon Bell will be better than last year. The Jets have a revamped offensive line with possibly four new starters, and Bell can make plays catching the ball out of the backfield.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Minshew Mania took the league by storm last season, and it looks like the Jags are ready to go all in on the former Washington State quarterback. The Jaguars have many holes, however, at offensive line and wide receiver. Arguably their best defensive player, Yannick Ngakoue, a former defensive end from Maryland, requested a trade and there are rumors that star RB Leonard Fournette is on the trading block as well. Fourtnette, if not traded, will get a large workload and put up good fantasy numbers, despite the team’s poor performance.
Detroit Lions: Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah was the right pick at number three overall in this year’s draft. However, the Lions are just too thin on both sides of the ball. Veteran Darius Slay was a key loss on defense this season and the Lions will likely be in for another long year. I would not put too much stock in Kenny Golladay. He relied on big plays for his production last year, and those are almost certainly going to go down.
Cincinnati Bengals: There is hope once again in Cincinnati with the drafting of LSU QB Joe Burrow after one of the greatest single season performances from a college player last season. Burrow is smart and knows how to win. However, the Bengals simply don’t have enough talent to completely turn it around just yet. In the backfield, Joe Mixon should get an increase in production with a somewhat capable passing game this season. In the PPR league, though, Giovani Bernard may cut into his reception totals.
Washington Redskins: The past few years have been difficult in Washington, and the Redskins may be the bottom dwellers of the league once again. The organization clearly isn’t sold on the future with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback after a disappointing first season. Ohio State DE Chase Young will be forced in his first year in the league, but behind him, the dropoff is steep. Fantasywise, Derrius Guice should be solid, especially if Haskins struggles, but injuries remain a concern.